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ISSS-BU News 25 February 2013 ISSS-BU News


An electronic news service for international students and scholars, owned by the Office of International Student and Scholar Services at Binghamton University, State University of New York

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Editor’s Note: As our readers know, we have launched GLACIER Tax Prep. If you are encountering any difficulties accessing GLACIER, please send an email message to isss@binghamton.edu, and include your full name as listed in University records, your date of birth, and whether you are a former F or J student or a current or former J research scholar or professor. Many ISSS-BU News subscribers have begun to view the ISSS Income Tax Webcasts that are available from the ISSS home page, http://isss-new.binghamton.edu We hope you find them helpful, especially if you find yourself confused regarding federal income tax law, or if you need assistance when completing New York State tax returns. Links to and information about tax forms are also available on line at:http://www2.binghamton.edu/isss/taxes/index.html Please note that GLACIER Tax Prep will print all of the required federal forms for you. New York State forms are available on line at this link: http://www2.binghamton.edu/isss/taxes/nysformit.html. You need to complete the federal tax forms in GLACIER before you can complete the NYS income tax forms. The ISSS Income Tax Webcasts will take you line by line through the NYS forms.

CONTENTS:

1. Pursuit of Academic Success - “What is Procrastination?” Wednesday, February 27
2. National Holidays for March
3. Ellen Badger’s Retirement Party on Friday, March 1
4. Traveling During the Spring Break?
5. Off Campus Employment and Why International Students Need Work Authorization
6. Nominations Now Being Accepted For 2013 Foundation Awards
7. BU Summer Session Registration Information is Now Available
8. Daylight Savings Time Starts on March 10 This Year
9. H-1B Visas and the U.S. Master’s Quota
10. Income Tax Question: “Do I Need To File a Tax Return if I Earned No Income During 2012 But I Was in the United States?”
11. Income Tax Information: How to Request a Copy of a Previous Year’s Income Tax Return
12. Income Tax Information: Tax Treaties
13. Income Tax Information: Tax Benefits for Spouses and Dependents

1. Pursuit of Academic Success - “What is Procrastination?” Wednesday, February 27

Pursuit of Academic Success is to assist international students in maximizing their academic achievement. Participants of this group will discuss barriers to academic success and learn how they can better address them. This group is open to ALL international students!

Week 3: What is Procrastination?
“(today you say) I’ll do it tomorrow. (tomorrow you say) Don’t worry. I’ll do it next week.
(later you say) Oh, no, It’s due tomorrow! I could have done much better ONLY IF I hadn’t said tomorrow, tomorrow and tomorrow…”

Does this sound familiar to you? If so, please join us to talk more about procrastination and learn about strategies to overcome this barrier. You can do much better at school when you overcome your procrastination!

Facilitator: Sangmoon Kim, Ph.D.
Wednesday: 2:30-4:00pm
Location: ISSS Conference Room, Hinman Commons Building, Room 120-B (come to the ISSS Main Office, for directions)

2. National Holidays for March

The following countries are celebrating national holidays during the month of March:

Republic of Korea 1-Mar
Bulgaria 3-Mar
Ghana 6-Mar
Mauritius 12-Mar
Ireland 17-Mar
Tunisia 20-Mar
Namibia 21-Mar
Pakistan 23-Mar
Greece 25-Mar
Bangladesh 26-Mar

3. Ellen Badger’s Retirement Party on Friday, March 1

Please join us in celebrating Ellen’s 27 years of service as Director of International Student & Scholar Services and 39 years at Binghamton University. In lieu of Coffee Hour this month, we will be honoring Ellen from 2:30pm-5:00pm in Old Union Hall on Friday, March 1. There will be beverages and light snacks. We encourage students to wear traditional dress as this is a special occasion. ALL ARE INVITED!

4. Traveling During the Spring Break?

Spring break begins following your last class on Friday, March 22 and continues through Monday, April 1. The ISSS has updated its Spring Break travel information on the ISSS website, and you can view it at this link: http://www2.binghamton.edu/isss/travel/springbrk.html

Planning to take a cruise? Read the essential information international students need to know here: http://www2.binghamton.edu/isss/travel/cruise.html

5. Off Campus Employment And Why International Students Need Work Authorization

In recent weeks, staff in the Office of International Student and Scholar Services have answered a number of students’ questions regarding off campus employment. A reminder: A student in F-1 or J-1 status cannot be employed away from the Binghamton University campus unless they have obtained appropriate federal authorization to do so before employment can begin. The only exception to this rule are F-1students who are working away from BU but are paid on a Binghamton University state or research foundation payroll.

  • All off-campus internships must be authorized in advance even if the internship is “unpaid”
  • Employment at another SUNY campus (such as Cortland or Oneonta) or Community College (such as Broome Community College) is NOT “on-campus employment” and must be authorized in advance. Other SUNY campuses are no different than any other off-campus location; the employment must be authorized.
  • Students currently on authorized Curricular Practical Training (CPT) who wish to extend their employment authorization or change employers must receive approval from the ISSS (in the form of a new I-20 with the new work authorization indicated on page 3) before the extended employment or the new employment may commence.

The U.S. government exacts heavy penalties for students who work without authorization.

In addition, many U.S. international student offices report problems with students putting unpaid internships on their resume as “work experience” and then having difficulties when they secure long-term employment and sponsorship for H-1B visas. The officers at US Citizenship and Immigration Services look for corresponding work authorization on their I-20, and finding none, may conclude that the student had engaged in unauthorized employment, and deny the H-1B petition.

Readers may wish to take note of the following two articles on the ISSS website:

Employment Overview
http://www2.binghamton.edu/isss/employment/overview.html

Don’t Place Your Immigration Status at Risk: Consequences of Illegal Employment
http://www2.binghamton.edu/isss/employment/illegalemp.html

The ISSS website has many resources on employment. Just visit http://isss-new.binghamton.edu and click on “Employment.”
If you have questions regarding employment, please do not hesitate to contact the International Employment Team. They are available to answer your employment questions by email at intl.work@binghamton.edu They are happy to assist you.

If you would like to make an appointment to discuss issues of employment, please call the ISSS office at (607) 777-2510. Walk-in hours for your employment questions are every Wednesday from 1:30pm to 3:15pm.

6. Nominations Now Being Accepted For 2013 Foundation Awards

The Division of Student Affairs is now accepting nominations of both students and student organizations for the Binghamton University Foundation Awards. The awards will be presented at the recognition ceremonies of the individual schools later this Spring. Anyone (faculty, staff or student) can nominate a student for these awards. A description of each award along with the required nomination form may be found at:

http://www2.binghamton.edu/student-affairs/awards/index.html

The nomination deadline is Friday, March 1.

7. BU Summer Session Registration Information is Now Available

Registration information for Summer Session 2013 is now available at https://banapp.cc.binghamton.edu:8483/banner/bwckschd.p_disp_dyn_sched select “Summer 2013” from the Search by Term drop-down menu. Summer Session registration opens March 11, 2013.

Here’s how to assure you will be eligible to register for courses: Submit missing required documentation, such as health forms or final high school/college transcripts. Pay all financial holds, such as parking tickets, unpaid student account balance, library fines, etc. Note: A hold is not instantly cleared and may require up to 24 hours to be reflected on a student’s account therefore delaying course registration.

You can view and/or pay your outstanding financial obligations at http://bubrain.binghamton.edu To view your outstanding debts, select Quick Pay-Student Payment. You will be able to view your debts and pay for them at this link.

The Summer Session Course List can be viewed on BU Brain at:

https://buonline.binghamton.edu/banner/bwckschd.p_disp_dyn_sched Just select “Summer 2013” from the drop down menu.

8. Daylight Savings Time Starts on March 10 This Year

The U.S. Energy Policy Act of 2005, passed by the U.S. Congress in July 2005, extended Daylight Saving Time (DST) in the United States by approximately four weeks. As a result, DST will start on Sunday, March 10, 2013, and end on Sunday, November 3, 2013. So, you’ll want to remember to set your clocks ahead one hour before going to sleep on Saturday night, March 9, so that you’ll be all set for the start of Daylight Savings Time on Sunday, March 10.

9. H-1B Visas and the U.S. Master’s Quota

The Office of International Student and Scholar Services is frequently asked by students about the H-1B “specialty occupations” visa and the special US Master’s quota of 20,000 H-1B visas available each year. This quota is in addition to the usual 65,000 H-1B visas available.

To be eligible to use the US Master’s quota, you must have been awarded your US Master’s degree at the time your H-1B petition is filed, or have completed all of your graduation requirements at the time your H-1B petition is filed. If you will not have all of your graduation requirements completed before the April 1, 2013 H-1B filing date, then you will not be eligible to use the US Master's quota for H-1B visas. You are still eligible to be considered under the larger, regular visa quota if you have at least a Bachelor’s degree at the time of filing.

If you are a currently enrolled graduate student who has not yet been awarded the Master’s degree, but you will have all of your Master’s degree requirements completed before April 1 (including thesis or project), then your department will need to submit the necessary certifications to the Graduate School on or before that date, and then the Graduate School's secretary for Graduate Degree Completion will be able to provide you with a letter verifying that you have completed all requirements for your degree.

The ISSS will be offering its annual workshop on “Post Graduation Employment Issues” on Wednesday, April 10 at 5:30pm in Academic A Room G08. Our guest speaker will be immigration attorney Hilary Fraiser from the law firm of Miller Mayer in Ithaca, New York. Watch for an upcoming announcement in ISSS-BU News.

10. Income Tax Question: “Do I Need To File a Tax Return if I Earned No Income During 2012 But I Was in the United States?”

Many students come to the ISSS to inquire if they need to file an income tax return if they earned no income during calendar year 2012, but were physically present in the United States. The answer is “yes” if you are a non-resident for tax purposes (meaning, you were in F or J status in the United States in 2012 and the first time you were in F or J status was no earlier than sometime in calendar year 2008).

Such students and scholars can use GLACIER Tax Prep for these “no income” tax filings, which require that just Federal Form 8843 be completed. For full information, visit this link:

http://www2.binghamton.edu/isss/taxes/zerousincome.html

11. Income Tax Information: How to Request a Copy of a Previous Year’s Income Tax Return

When you file an income tax form as a non-resident or as a resident, you are required to keep copies of the forms, and attachments. The ISSS has been asked several times for help if a student has somehow lost or misplaced a previous year’s income tax forms.

Both the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the New York State tax department provide separate instructions on how to obtain a copy of an income tax form.

To request a copy of a previous year’s federal income tax form, follow the instructions at the following web link: http://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc156.html

To request a copy of a previous year’s New York State tax return, print the form at the following web link and follow the instructions on the form:

http://www.tax.ny.gov/pdf/current_forms/misc/dtf505_fill_in.pdf

12. Income Tax Information: Tax Treaties

This week's Income Tax article is about Tax Treaties. For more information, visit http://www2.binghamton.edu/isss/taxes/treaties.html

How do you find out whether your country HAS a tax treaty with the U.S. that allows such a deduction and additional details regarding the deduction? Consult IRS Publication 901 (U.S. Tax Treaties) available on the IRS website at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p901.pdf

Be sure that you are referencing the correct section of the publication; tax treaty provisions for students begin on Page 18.

The section titled "Professors, Teachers, and Researchers" (which starts on Page 15) only applies to those individuals who entered the U.S. in non-student categories, such as a J-1 Visiting Professor or Research Scholar.

If you use GLACIER Tax Prep, it will inform you of any tax treaty for which you might be eligible, and put the information on the appropriate federal income tax form.

If you earned wages (as reported on form W-2) during 2012 and are a national of a country that has a tax treaty with the United States that includes a personal services provision for students, you may be able to deduct that tax treaty amount on your tax form.

If you use GLACIER Tax Prep, it will do that for you.

Many students who are eligible for tax treaty benefits that are either applicable to wages or scholarships will be issued form 1042-S by Binghamton University in mid-March. Students who will receive form 1042-S should wait to receive form 1042-S before filing their income tax returns.The following countries permit their nationals who are students in the United States to protect a portion of their wages from income tax: Bangladesh, Belgium, Canada, China, Commonwealth of Independent States*, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Egypt, Estonia, France, Germany, Iceland, Indonesia, Israel, Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovak Republic, Spain, Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia, and Venezuela.(*This treaty is in effect for Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kyrgystan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan). However, the rules vary by country.

An easy to read chart for tax treaties based on wages for students can also be found on the ISSS website at: http://www2.binghamton.edu/isss/taxes/saltable.html

If you have a qualifying scholarship or fellowship grant (not a teaching or research assistantship, and not a tuition scholarship) and are from one of the following countries, you may be able to protect all or part of your grant from tax: Bangladesh, Belgium, China, Commonwealth of Independent States*, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Egypt, Estonia, France, Germany, Iceland, Indonesia, Israel, Kazakhstan, Republic of Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovak Republic, Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Ukraine and Venezuela. (*This treaty is in effect for Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kyrgystan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.)

An easy to read chart for tax treaties based on scholarships or fellowships for students can be found on the ISSS website at: http://www2.binghamton.edu/isss/taxes/schtable.html

If you are a student from India, visit the ISSS website at http://www2.binghamton.edu/isss/taxes/usindia.html for specific information on the U.S. tax treaty with India.

An easy to read chart for tax treaties for J-1 scholars and faculty who earned salary and wages as reported on a W-2 can be found on the ISSS website at:
http://www2.binghamton.edu/isss/taxes/teachresea.html

Another good source of information on tax treaties is the special tax treaty page of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS):
http://www.irs.gov/businesses/international/article/0,,id=96739,00.html

This site has posted the entire text of tax treaties for each country.

13. Income Tax Information: Tax Benefits for Spouses and Dependents

Many international students and scholars who are married and/or have children ask if they can claim their spouse and/or children as dependents on their income tax returns. The answer is, "it depends."

If you are an F-1 or J-1 student, and have been in that status for five or fewer years (since 2008 or later) OR if you are a J-1 scholar or faculty member who has been in that status for two or fewer years (since 2011 or later) you are considered to be a non-resident for tax purposes. You can only claim a spouse and/or children as dependents IF you are a national of one of the following four countries:
Canada
India (students ONLY and only if the spouse is in the U.S. and earned no income)
Republic of Korea
Mexico

If you are a national of any other country, you cannot claim a spouse and/or children as dependents if you are a non-resident for tax purposes. This is because only those four countries have entered into tax treaty agreements with the United States that permit a spouse or dependent to be claimed as a dependent by a non- resident. This also means that only residents from those four countries can also claim tax credits based on having dependents.

Here are the specific rules:

Spouses
A spouse exemption is available to married individuals from Canada, Mexico and the Republic of Korea. A spouse exemption is also available to married students from India IF the spouse is living with the student in the United States and if the spouse had no earned U.S. income for the 2012 tax year. No other countries are eligible for the spouse exemption. If you are claiming a spouse exemption, you cannot file form 1040NR EZ. Instead, you must file form 1040NR. GLACIER Tax Prep will complete the correct tax form for you.

Dependents (Children)
Only individuals from Canada, Mexico or the Republic of Korea can claim children who live with them as dependents. Individuals from Canada or Mexico can also claim children who don't live with them as dependents. Students from India can only claim children living with them in the United States if the children are U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents.

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Last Updated: 8/28/14