Taxes – Frequently Asked Questions

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When should I file my income tax return?

2020 Federal and State Taxes are due by Thursday, April 15, 2021.

(Please note that no extension has been announced by the IRS for Tax Year 2020)  

What is GLACIER?

GLACIER is a comprehensive tax compliance system used by UW-Madison Payroll Services for
international students working for UW-Madison or receiving certain scholarships and fellowships. Its purpose is to monitor and manage information regarding international students’ tax liability at the federal and state level as well as tax treaty benefits. GLACIER is used when international students either have jobs through UW-Madison, earning taxable income through practical training (CPT or OPT) or are receiving scholarships and fellowships.

What is GLACIER Tax Prep?

GLACIER Tax Prep is a web-based tax return preparation system designed exclusively for foreign students, scholars, teachers, researchers, trainees, and their dependents to aid in preparing U.S. federal income tax forms (returns) 1040NR and 1040NR-EZ.

It is used during tax reporting season in the Spring for the previous fiscal year to reconcile tax liability with taxes withheld. For example, any income received during 2020 will be reported in the Spring of 2021. Please direct GLACIER Tax Prep-usage questions to:

I did not work this year. Do I need to file anything?

Yes, if identify as a nonresident for tax purposes with no U.S. source income, you (and any dependents) must file federal Form 8843 only. GLACIER Tax Prep can assist you with this. Or you can find more about Form 

I just arrived in the U.S. this January. Do I need to file anything?

If you arrived in the U.S. as a international student for the first time this January 2021, you do not need to file any tax forms, including Form 8843. You may need to file U.S. taxes next year.

I worked on or off campus in 2020. Must I file an income tax return?

Yes. All non-residents who were present in the United States during the tax year 2020, must file a federal and state tax return if they had income in the United States during the tax year.

What should I put in item #10 on the 8843 that asks for me to contact information for my "academic or other specialized program?"

You would put the name of the Dean of your academic department and the general contact info for the academic department.

What is the difference between the 1040NR and the 1040NREZ?

The Form 1040NR is a longer, more detailed tax form, totaling five pages, which can be used by any non-resident.

The Form 1040NREZ is a simplified version of the same form, which can be completed by non-residents who meet the following requirements (according to

  • Your only income is from U.S. wages, salaries, tips, refunds of state and local income taxes, scholarship, or fellowship grants


  • You do not claim any dependents

Just remember EZ stands for “easy” or a less-detailed form.

Many UW – Madison students can file the 1040NREZ. See the 1040NR instructions for more information.

Do I need a Social Security Number to file a return?

You need either a U.S. Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) in order to file your Federal or State income tax return. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will reject returns without these numbers. (Numbers that begin with 999 or 90 are not U.S. Social Security Numbers).

What is a tax treaty?

Currently the U.S. has tax treaties or agreements with approximately 40 countries and territories under which their citizens may be exempt from all or part of U.S. federal income tax.

To see if your country is among these and how a treaty may affect your tax status, read the IRS Publication 901.

Where can I get additional U.S. tax forms or help in preparing my return?

Glacier Tax Prep

Internal Revenue Service

Wisconsin Department of Revenue

Used with permission from the University of Southern California Office of International Services.