Your Salary and Paycheck
There is no maximum amount of money you can earn. You will most likely be paid weekly or sometimes twice per month – check with your employer. You will always receive less than your “gross” salary, as there will be taxes and/ or deductions taken out of each check.
Your employer should give you a salary statement, pay stub or pay slip with each paycheck, which will explain exactly what was taken out. It is wise to save these pay stubs and take them home with you to assist with your taxes.
Taxes you do pay, and taxes you do not pay
As a foreign student working in the U.S., you will be required to pay certain taxes, but will be exempt from other taxes.
Taxes you DO pay:
- Federal Income Tax: Income tax is paid to the federal (national) government by all income-earning individuals. It is paid on income from salaries, wages, and tips. Approximately 10 to 15 percent of your salary will be withheld for federal income tax, a portion of which you may be able to claim back as a refund at the end of the year.
- Local, City or State Income Tax: States and cities may charge extra income tax according to local laws. State income taxes are approximately 5 to 8 percent. Ask your employer about the local tax situation. If applicable, state and local income taxes will be withheld from your paycheck. You may be able to claim a refund for a portion of these taxes at the end of the year.
Taxes you DO NOT pay:
- Social security and Medicare tax: You must have the Social Security card and number, but you are EXEMPT from paying Social Security, Medicare, and Federal Unemployment tax. Sometimes, employers make a mistake and withhold these taxes. You can tell if this happened by looking at your pay slip (the paper with your wage details).
- Federal unemployment tax (FUTA): If you see any deductions under the word “FICA” or “FUTA”, then the employer has made a mistake. Please contact GeoVisions Summer Work/Travel if you need assistance with resolving this problem.
Tax Return Forms and Tax Refunds
The deadline for filing tax return forms is April 15. Upon receiving your W-2 Form, you will need to complete a tax return form. The form you need is the 1040NR-EZ, which is specifically for Non-Resident Aliens with No Dependents. You can obtain this form at the United States Embassy in your home country or on the Internet at www.irs.gov. There are separate forms for federal, state, and city taxes – please request these forms from your employer.
When you request the 1040NR-EZ Form, make sure to ask for the instructions pamphlet. To avoid any mistakes, follow the instructions carefully.