Social Security (FICA) and Medicare Withholding
(For Tax Year 2013)

This fact sheet is about incorrectly withheld Social Security (FICA) and Medicare Tax from earnings (wages), and how to get the money refunded to you. 
Different kinds of taxes are withheld by employers.  The W-2 form (Wage and Tax Statement) sent to you by your employer each January has boxes for reporting withholding of Federal Income Tax (box 2), Social Security Tax (box 4), Medicare Tax (box 6), State Income Tax (box 17) and local income tax (box 19).  This tax tip focuses on box 4 and box 6. 
F-1 and J-1 students who have been in the U.S. in this status for 5 years or less (2009 or later), and J-1 scholars in the U.S. in this status for 2 years or less (2012 or later) who have been employed ON CAMPUS are exempt from Social Security and Medicare Tax (boxes 4 and 6).  F-1 and J-1 students who worked off campus with the appropriate work authorization (economic hardship employment or practical training) are also exempt from these two taxes.  However, F-1 and J-1 students in the U.S. in this status for more than five years, J-2 dependents, J-1 scholars and faculty in the U.S. for more than two years, those in other non-immigrant statuses, and those who worked without authorization ARE subject to Social Security (FICA) and Medicare Tax. 
If you are an F-1 or J-1 student who thinks that Social Security and/or Medicare Taxes were withheld from your pay incorrectly, because you were in the U.S. in this status for less than five years and had appropriate work authorization, then U.S. federal regulation requires that you contact the employer who issued you the W-2 and inform them of the error, AND ask that they refund you the money.  If the employer cannot or will not issue the refund, there is a special procedure you can use to obtain a refund of Social Security and Medicare Tax.  This procedure is entirely separate from filing your income tax forms. 
Two special IRS forms, Form 843 and Form 8316, are needed.  You will be required to show on the forms that you attempted to contact your employer first.  You will also be required to attach copies of your work authorization, a copy of your I-94 card, a copy of your I-20 or DS-2019 and a copy of your W-2 form.  It all gets mailed to the IRS office in Austin, Texas. You should keep copies of everything you send and allow up to six months for processing.

Click here for more information, and links to the required IRS forms.

International Student and Scholar Services staff are neither qualified nor permitted to give individual tax advice. Tax assistance is available at:

Last Updated: 8/28/14