Every person in the United States who earns money (from a job, from a scholarship, etc.) must pay income tax. This tax is usually deducted from individual's paychecks throughout the year. At the end of every tax year, employers send out summaries of how much money employees earned or were given (scholarships, grants, etc.), and how much tax was taken out of that money. Individuals are then required to report back to the government about their tax status, effectively reconciling the amount of taxes paid to the government (for example, if more money was taken out of your paycheck than should have been, the government will refund that tax money to you).

Here are some additional considerations about U.S. taxes:

  • In certain instances, an international student may be exempt from paying income tax in the United States if a tax treaty exists between the United States and the student's home country.
  • Most international students are also exempt from paying Social Security and Medicare taxes, which U.S. citizens are required to pay. 
  • All international students, even those who earn no money in the United States, must file a tax report with the government every year.
  • Individual students must act on their own behalves regarding tax matters, though the International Student Programs will act as a resource for students during tax season.

Social Security Number

The Social Security Number (SSN) is a nine-digit individual identification number. The SSN facilitates the reporting of your wages to the government and determines eligibility for Social Security benefits. An employed international student must apply for a Social Security number (SSN). If you do not have a job or job offer, you cannot apply for a Social Security number.

To apply for an SSN, you must bring the following to a Social Security office:

  1. I-20
  2. I-94 (Arrival/Departure record)
  3. Passport
  4. Completed SS-5 Form
  5. Employment letter (DOC) signed by your supervisor and the International Student Advisor

Closest Social Security Offices:

5800 Executive Ctr Drive, Suite 300
Charlotte, N.C. 28212

830 Florence St NW
Concord, N.C. 28027

Due to precautions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Social Security Administration is open by appointment only. Contact ISP to arrange an appointment.

Related Links

Internal Revenue Service

Social Security Administration