Frequently Asked Questions

Tax laws can be complicated and are always subject to changes, but it is still the individual's responsibility to comply with these laws. The following contains general information that might be helpful to you.

1. Why do I need to see the International Tax Coordinator (ITC)?

The International Tax Coordinator (ITC) provides guidance to questions concerning tax withholding and reporting of payments made to you as a nonresident alien. Payments to you can be delayed or subject to the maximum tax withholding if proper tax related documents are not processed and filed. The ITC will meet with the international student, scholar, or visitor on an individual basis to determine your individual immigration and residency status for tax purposes and to determine the proper tax withholdings. The ITC will review any relevant tax treaties and process any applicable tax treaty exemption forms for you. Please note that the ITC cannot provide personal tax advice.


2. When do I need to see the International Tax Coordinator and what do I need to bring with me?

Generally you must meet with the ITC before engaging in any services or performing work for the University. Prior to meeting with the ITC, you must complete the Foreign National Tax Information Form (FNTIF). For your meeting, you will need to bring the completed FNTIF along with your passport, I-94, 1-20 or DS2019 (I-797 if H-1B), and Social Security Card. The ITC’s office is conveniently located in the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) in UC 260. To avoid any waiting, you should contact the ITC in advance for an appointment if necessary. Please contact the ITC at (504) 280-3207 or email


3. What is the difference between a Nonresident alien and a Resident alien?

For income tax purposes, a nonresident alien (NRA) is a person who is not an U.S. citizen and who does not meet either the Green Card Test or the Substantial Presence Test (see IRS Pub 519). A resident alien is a person who is not an U.S. citizen and who does meet either the Green Card Test or the Substantial Presence Test. Resident aliens are generally taxed in the same manner as U.S. citizens, whereas nonresident aliens must adhere to stricter rules depending on the individual’s immigration status. Due to the complexity of determining an individual’s status for tax purposes, it is important to meet with the ITC to make that determination.


4. What types of payment are taxable?

If you are eligible to receive payments from the University, the most common forms of payments to nonresident aliens include: 
● Employee compensation payments,
● Scholarship/fellowship payments,
● Independent contractor payments, and
● Awards and prizes.
The rules and rates at which each form of payment in which taxes will be withheld vary depending on the status (immigration, residency, etc.) of the individual receiving the payment(s). For a general idea of how each payment will be taxed, please refer to the withholding charts.


5. Why will the University withhold taxes on the payments that I receive?

IRS and State rules require that certain payments must have a portion taken out or withheld for taxes. The amount withheld will be submitted directly to the IRS and to the State on your behalf and will be credited toward any actual taxes that you may owe the government at the end of the year. The University must withhold taxes on all payments to you, as a nonresident alien, unless the payments are exempt under the Internal Revenue Code or tax treaty. For employment wages both federal and state withholding taxes will apply, therefore, tax withholding forms (i.e., W-4 and L-4) must be completed. Nonresident aliens cannot mark exempt on these forms. A valid Form W-4 and Form L-4 must be on file in the Payroll Office or taxes will be withheld at the maximum withholding rate. All other forms of payments are also subject to federal withholding; however, currently the State of Louisiana does not provide guidelines for withholding on non-wage (i.e., nonqualified scholarships, contractual services, etc.) payments. Therefore, to ensure that these tax withholding forms are properly completed, you are required to meet with the ITC.


6. Can I change my tax withholding forms after they have been submitted to the Payroll Office by the ITC?

Changes to your withholding forms are allowed if there has been a change in your immigration or residency status. However, you must consult with the ITC and any new tax withholding forms must be processed by the ITC’s office only. You should not resubmit new withholding forms on your own to the Payroll Office. Unauthorized forms will not be accepted in the Payroll Office.


7. Do I need a U.S. tax identification number?

As a nonresident alien, if you will be working or performing services for the University, then you must have a Social Security Number (SSN) or provide evidence that one has been applied for. Generally, if you are on a F-1, H-1, J-1 or M -1 visa, you are eligible for a SSN and should obtain one immediately. If you are not eligible for a SSN, then you must obtain an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). Individuals without a SSN or ITIN will potentially have federal taxes withheld at 30%. No treaty benefits will be granted without a valid U.S. tax identification number (SSN or ITIN). It is very important that you apply for one as soon as possible.


8. How do I determine if I qualify for a tax treaty exemption?

Generally, as a nonresident alien, you may claim a tax treaty benefit only if you are the beneficial owner of the income and meet the residency requirements and all other requirements for benefits under the terms of the tax treaty between the U.S and the residency country. Most tax treaties require that you be a resident of the treaty country at the time of entry into the U.S. and that the original intention to enter the U.S is consistent with the rules of that treaty. For example, if you enter the U.S. on a F-2 (dependent) or B-2 (visitor) visa and decide to change to a F-1(student) status, you may not be entitled to treaty benefits because your original intent to enter the U.S. was not as a student. When requesting treaty benefits, either the Form 8233 or W-8BEN, depending on the type of payment, must be processed and filed with the ITC. In addition, the IRS requires a valid SSN or ITIN and evidence of proper work authorization before benefits can be granted. Once the Form 8233 is submitted, there will be a 10 day waiting period before it will become effective. Information on tax treaties is available from the IRS (Pub.901). The ITC will assist you in determining your eligibility and the completion of all necessary documents.


9. Will the University report my payments to the IRS and to the State? Will I need to file a Federal and State tax return?

Payments made to you and any taxes withheld on your behalf will be reported to both you and to the respective governmental taxing agencies on Form 1042S and/or Form W-2. In order for you to file your year-end tax return, the Form W-2 will be issued by January 31st and the Form 1042S by March 15th. Generally, you should file your Federal and State tax returns to ensure that you comply with tax laws, pay any tax liability, or receive any tax refund.


10. If I had taxes withheld and later it was determined that I was entitled to a tax treaty exemption, will I receive a refund from the University?

It is important that you obtain a SSN/ITIN as soon as possible and that you complete the necessary documents (i.e., Form 8233) with the ITC, otherwise taxes will be withheld. Once the taxes have been withheld, it is submitted to the IRS. Therefore, the University cannot refund the amount withheld directly to you. You will need to file a year end tax return to receive any funds that may be owed to you.