Funding Workshop: Tax Basics for Graduate Students

This Financial Literacy workshop hosted by the Graduate Funding Peer covers types of graduate student taxable income sources (including fellowships!), common tax documents and forms, tax credits and deductions, and tax filing resources and deadlines.

To access the recording of the online workshop click here. You can find the workshop slides PDF with clickable links here.

*Note: the Funding Peer is not a certified tax professional and can only provide basic tax prep advice. If you have questions or require assistance with filing your taxes, please contact a tax professional.

Additionally, here's a copy of the Q&A from the panel that may be helpful as you prepare your federal and state tax returns this year:

Q: Do I need to pay taxes on fellowships/stipends?
A: Yes, fellowships/stipends qualify as non-compensatory taxable income, and you need to pay taxes on that amount, as reported on your 1098-T form (which you can find on BARC if disbursed by UCSB). For international students, you only have to pay income tax on fellowships/stipends that come from US sources (including UCSB).

Q: Can international students use tax prep programs like TurboTax, TaxFile, and H&R Block?
A:  Most international students ("nonresident aliens" in tax terms) cannot use TurboTax, TaxFile, or H&R Block. There are special programs designed for international students, such as Glacier Tax Prep (GTP) offered for free by Grad Div in 2020 and Sprintax, which costs money (you can find a discount code here!). However, if an international student meets the "substantial presence test," they are considered "resident aliens" for tax purposes only and cannot use GTP. But they can use TurboTax, H&R Block etc.

Q: Do international students need to file California state taxes in addition to US federal taxes?
A: Yes, some international students must file California state taxes depending on a few factors. Your income tax is automatically withheld for federal purposes (reported on a 1042-S form), but you still owe income tax for state purposes. Please see the California Franchise Tax Board website to determine whether you must pay state taxes. You can do so for free through CalFile (have your SSN handy) or Sprintax. (Note: some international students have reported issues filing through CalFile, while others have had no problem. If you are having issues with CalFile and cannot get assistance directly from the California Franchise Tax Board staff, you can definitely use Sprintax).