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Tax and Documentation Requirements for International Faculty and Scholars Employed at Binghamton University

International faculty and scholars in the United States are subject to federal and state income taxation on any wages earned by themselves and their families. Following is a summary of how the required federal forms need to be filled out by international faculty and scholars in J-1 status.


Because the United States requires employers to withhold tax on wages earned by employees, all employees must fill out a W-4 and an IT-2104 form before going on a payroll. International faculty and scholars in J-1 status who have been in the U.S. for less than 2 of the last 6 years are considered non-residents for tax purposes. They must claim either "zero" or "one" allowance on both forms regardless of the number of family members, unless they are citizens of Canada, Mexico, or Korea, and have dependents, or are married to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Citizens of Canada or Mexico must check the "single" box in item 3 of Form W-4, even if married, but can claim additional allowances for themselves and their dependents on line 5, even if the dependents are abroad, provided that the dependents are not employed in the U.S. Citizens of Korea may follow the same instructions, but can only claim additional allowances for dependents if the dependents are in the U.S.

Because of federal restrictions on your filing status, you should complete form W-4 as follows. You must check the "single" box in item 3, even if you are married. Put a number "zero" or "one" on line 5 (unless you're a citizen of one of the 3 countries mentioned in the previous paragraph and have dependents), enter NRA on line 6 and leave line 7 blank. Claiming "zero" allowance will result in more tax being withheld from your check (meaning less income for you), but it is advisable if too little tax is taken out of your check, which may result in you owing money to the IRS next year.

For form IT-2104, put "zero" or "one" on line 1 (unless you are a citizen of one of the countries mentioned and have dependents with you in the U.S.), and leave the remaining lines blank.
Sign and date both forms at the bottom and return them to the appropriate payroll office. Failure to have taxes withheld can result in a $500 fine, plus other penalties.

More than 30 countries have signed tax treaties with the U.S. which may include exemption from income tax for earnings from teaching and research for a specified period, usually for the first 2 years in the U.S. A summary of tax treaty benefits may be found in IRS publication 901. International faculty and scholars in J-1 status for more than 2 years are eligible to file as residents for tax purposes.

International faculty and scholars in J-1 status are exempt from Social Security (FICA) and Medicare tax, which are different from federal or state income tax, during their first 2 years in the U.S. After that time, FICA tax must be withheld.

On November 6, 1986, the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) became law. The act states that all U.S. employers must verify that all newly hired employees are eligible to work. J-1 faculty and research scholars are authorized to work at the location designated by their J-1 program sponsor on the DS-2019. No other employment is permitted unless it meets federal regulatory requirements and is authorized by the J-1 program sponsor.

The Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 must be completed by all employees before going on a payroll. Form I-9 contains 2 sections. The employee completes the first section. The second section is completed by the employer.

When completing the Form I-9, you will need to provide the following documents to establish identity and employment eligibility:

  • I-94 Arrival-Departure Record
  • Passport
  • DS-2019

The following offices are responsible for the I-9s of international faculty and scholars:


The Payroll Office (CouperAdministration Building 242) will examine and certify identification and employment eligibility for faculty and scholars on the State payroll.
The Sponsored Funds Administration Payroll Office (Biotechnology Building) will examine and certify identification and employment eligibility for individuals appointed directly to the Research Foundation payroll.



Last Updated: 8/28/14