Every year, the U.S. federal government and the Georgia state government require that individuals who earned income in the United States during the previous year file an income tax return. A tax return is a type of report that you must send to each government (federal and state) that states how much you earned, were taxed, and should have been taxed during the year 2012. So, you are returning a report on your taxes for 2012.
Everyone who was physically present in the United States in F-1, F-2, J-1, J-2, H-1B, H-4, TN, TD, O-1 or O-3 immigration status for any time between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2012 (even if it was for one day) must file some sort of 2012 federal tax form. This includes dependents (F-2s, J-2s, H-4s, TDs, O-3s), regardless of their age.
Federal income tax return forms must be completed and mailed (postmarked) by April 15, 2013. If you are currently abroad or received no U.S. income during 2012, the deadline for you is (postmarked by) June 15, 2013.
Before you seek help with your tax return you need to determine your tax residency status. There is a huge difference between the two tax residency statuses, and filing incorrectly can cause problems and possibly delays in receiving any refund to which you may be entitled. Tax status can be broken down in the following ways: 'non-resident for tax purposes' and 'resident for tax purposes.'
[Note: The terms 'resident' and 'non-resident' are also used by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in reference to your immigration status. The terms are defined differently by the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in reference to taxes.]
A convenient way to determine your tax status is to use FNTR (Foreign National Tax Resource), a web-based federal income tax preparation software program. After you have entered the initial information requested in the beginning part of FNTR, the program will determine whether you are a non-resident or a resident for tax purposes. If your status is resident, you will not be able to complete your tax return using FNTR.
FNTR: If you are a Nonresident for Tax Purposes, you may use FNTR, a web-based federal income tax preparation software (provided FREE of charge by Emory University) to prepare your federal income tax return (Forms 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ).
Tax help sessions: If you are a non-resident for tax purposes, the Office of the Controller is offering one-on-one appointments if you have questions regarding your Georgia tax forms. You must complete the federal tax form 1040NR-EZ and fill out as fully as possible the Georgia state tax forms before you set up a one-on-one appointment. Sign up for an appointment >>
The Atlanta Prosperity Campaign provides free income tax preparation services for any person who earned an income less than $49,000 in 2012. To find out more about this program, please see the Atlanta Prosperity Campaign website.
Everyone who earned income in the United States during the year 2012 must file a tax return for 2012. For dependents in F-2 or J-2 status with no U.S. income, this is a straightforward process that only requires one to file a Form 8843. If you are using FNTR, it will ask you if you want to also print out 8843s for each F-2 or J-2 family members. For tax filing purposes, your dependents are your spouse and children in dependent status (F-2 or J-2). If you are in J-2 status and were employed in 2012 you should use FNTR to prepare your federal tax return if you are a non-resident for tax purposes.
Please remember that even though the document is called an income tax return, not everyone who files a return will receive a refund of taxes paid. The tax return is a document which the U.S. and state governments require you use to return a report on your taxes. Many of you will find out that everything will balance out to "0" and some of you may find out that you owe more taxes to the U.S. or Georgia government. Regardless of whether or not you will receive a refund, you are required by law to file a tax return if you were in the United States in F-1, F-2, J-1, J-2, H-1B, H-4, TN, TD, O-1 or O-3 status in 2012.