> US Citizen/ Resident
Social Security Number (SSN)
SSNs are generally assigned to people who are authorized to work in the United States. SSNs are used to report your wages to the government and to determine eligibility for Social Security benefits.
Social Security will not assign you a number just to enroll in a college or school. Some colleges and schools use Social Security numbers as student identification numbers. If you do not have a Social Security number, the college or school should be able to give you another identification number.
SSN for Employment
If you get a job and need a SSN, the Social Security will require the following documentations:
SSN for Other Reasons
If you are not eligible for SSN but you have a valid tax reason, you may apply for an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN). An ITIN is a tax processing number issued by the IRS to help individuals comply with the U.S. tax laws, and to provide a means to efficiently process and account for tax returns and payments for those not eligible for Social Security Numbers (SSNs). An ITIN does not authorize work in the U.S. or provide eligibility for Social Security benefits or the Earned Income Tax Credit.
There are 3 primary kinds of tax in the US: Federal income tax, Social Security & Medicare taxes and state income tax. Some localities, such as New York, also impose city income tax.
Federal Income Tax
All your income from US source is subject to Federal income tax. Whether you will owe any tax depends on many factors, including but not limited to, your citizenship, possible treaties between your government and the US government, and income level.
Social Security and Medicare Taxes
Foreign students in F visa are exempted from Social Security and Medicare on wages performed within the United States as long as such services are allowed by USCIS for these nonimmigrant statuses. Exempted employments are:
If Social Security or Medicare taxes were withheld in error from pay that is not subject to these taxes, contact the employer who withheld the taxes for a refund. If you are unable to get a full refund of the amount from your employer, file a claim for refund with the Internal Revenue Service on Form 843 "Claim for Refund and Request for Abatement".
State Income Tax
In addition to Federal income tax, most US states impose income tax on its residents as well. To find out which states do not impose state income tax, you can visit >>>Wikipedia<<<.
The terms, "resident" and "residency", have a totally different meaning from state income tax perspective than the federal income tax perspective.
While the federal government looks at the number of days you are present in the US, type of visa and others to determine your residency, states look at the place where you have the closest connection to. If your closest connection is the state where you live, then you are resident of the state. Unfortunately, there is no one fast and quick rule to determine your closest connection. Instead, many factors must be considered to determine your overall nature of your presence. With exceptions, most foreign students are considered as non-residents if they maintain a closer ties to their own countries.
To make things more complicated, many tax treaties do not apply to state income tax because almost all tax treaties are entered between the foreign governments and the federal government, not state governments.
When You Get A Job or Scholarship...
This section discusses topics that you need to know when you get a job or scholarship.
Social Security Number
When you get a job, you should apply for a Social Security Number. Please see earlier discussion on what you need to do.
The US tax is a "pay-as-you-go" system - it means you should pay tax as you earne the income. It is different than you wait till tax time to pay a year worth of tax. For most people, they pay their tax through employers' payroll deduction. The employers will withhold a portion of their income from every paycheck to pay the federal and state governments on behalf of the employees.
At the beginning of your employment, your employers will ask you to fill out a Form W4 "Withholding Allowance Certificate", Form W8BEN "Certificate of Foreign Status of Beneficial Owner for United States Tax Withholding", or Form 8233 "Exemption From Withholding on Compensation for Independent (and Certain Dependent) Personal Services of a Nonresident Alien Individual". Which one should you use?
Generally, all Non-Residents must obtain a certificate of compliance certifying that their US tax obligations have been satisfied according to available information before leaving the United States. However, foreign students in F visa are exempted from obtaining Departure Permits if you have not received any income from sources in the United States other than: