Foreign Student Tax Filing Rules: Better, But an Urban Myth Persists

5 Pages Posted: 26 Jan 2008 Last revised: 19 Sep 2014


In recent years, the tax filing burdens on international guests at U.S. institutions of higher learning have lessened, at least somewhat. Students and scholars whose only U.S.-source income is a small amount of wages (and interest on a U.S. bank account, if they have one) need not file an income tax return. However, there is some confusion about how much of a tax filing burden remains. One relatively obscure IRS publication asserts - and many schools' international student advisors repeat, on the internet and otherwise - that every nonresident student and scholar in the country must file a residency statement with the IRS each year, regardless of whether he or she has any income. The soundness of this assertion is open to serious question. Thus, a significant portion of the tax filing that is being churned out by international students and their host institutions across the country each year may not be legally required.

Keywords: income tax, international student, foreign student, tax return, tax form

JEL Classification: K34, H24, I28

Suggested Citation

Bogdanski, John A., Foreign Student Tax Filing Rules: Better, But an Urban Myth Persists. Tax Notes, Vol. 117, p. 1236, December 24, 2007, Lewis & Clark Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2008-3, Available at SSRN:

John A. Bogdanski (Contact Author)

Lewis & Clark Law School ( email )

10015 S.W. Terwilliger Blvd.
Portland, OR 97219
United States
(503) 768-6653 (Phone)


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