Tax Preparation FAQs
What is the deadline for filing taxes?
In most years, the deadline is April 15, unless that date falls on a weekend or holiday. In 2023, the deadline is April 18.
What is taxable income?
At the graduate level, all fellowship and assistantship stipends are considered taxable income by the IRS and by New York state. For U.S. citizens, fellowship stipends do not generally have tax taken out at the time of payment. However, the IRS requires Cornell to withhold 14% in taxes from stipends paid to “non-resident aliens” (international students), unless the student is eligible for exemption under a tax treaty. All students are expected to report the stipend and taxable income on their tax return forms.
For graduate student assistantship stipends, taxes are withheld at the time of disbursement and the stipend amount is reported to the IRS by Cornell.
Graduate students may exclude from income monies spent for tuition and fees, books, supplies, and equipment required for courses. Tax treatment of specific items may change from year to year. It’s important to visit the IRS website for the most recent regulations.
International students may or may not pay taxes on fellowship stipends depending on the specific provisions of the tax treaty between their home country and the United States. Please consult with a tax expert well in advance of the tax due date, which is generally on or around April 15.
Student loans are not considered taxable income.
Each student is responsible for determining how the tax law applies to his or her own situation. For more information about taxes and links to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), please visit Cornell’s tax issues FAQ for students.
What types of taxes do I need to pay?
This depends on your individual circumstances and your legal residence.
How do I get started?
- Go to Student Center to make sure your address on record is accurate. If you received any funds through the university, you will receive tax documents detailing what you received. Domestic students should have received most of them by January 31. International students will receive their documents soon.
- Collect your documents and any other statements you might have received. For example, your bank may have sent you a statement depending on the type of account you have and the bank’s location.
- How you file will depend on your residency.
- Domestic students: IRS Free File may be utilized if adjusted gross income (AGI) is $73,000 or less. You may want to work with a tax preparer. If so, follow the tips listed below.
- International students: The Office of Global Learning provides free tax preparation software for international students. (Turbo Tax and other products do not include the right forms for international students.)
Where can I get help preparing taxes?
- For international students: Tax information for International Students – Global Learning provides free tax preparation software for international students. (Turbo Tax and other products do not include the right forms for international students, do not use them.)
- Tax preparation from Alternatives Credit Union: Alternatives Federal Credit Union offers free tax preparation for those who qualify. If your income is less than $60,000, you could be eligible.
If you decide to work with a tax preparer, please follow these tips:
- Check the preparer’s qualifications
- Check the preparer’s history
- Ask about service fees
- Ask to e-file
- Make sure the preparer is available
- Provide records and receipts
- Never sign a blank return
- Review before signing
- Ensure the preparer signs and includes their PTIN
What is the outcome after I file my taxes?
There are generally two outcomes. You will need to either pay taxes if you did not pay enough during the previous calendar year. Or, if you overpaid your tax burden, you will receive a tax refund.
My friends pay less tax than me. Why?
Taxes are highly individualized based on many factors that vary greatly even between two people in similar circumstances. Your salary and withholding tax are only two pieces of a much bigger puzzle. Income, deductions, number of exemptions, tax credits, phase-out of exemptions, deductions, and credits, as well as withholding and estimated tax payments, are all factors in determining the amount of your refund or (gasp!) the amount you owe the government at year end.
Your annual income tax calculation starts with ALL sources of taxable income for the year. In addition to your weekly paycheck, this can include a spouse’s salary, interest, dividends, capital gains or losses, unemployment, retirement distributions, social security, rental income, small business income, cancelled debts, alimony, gambling winnings, and even bribes! You also have adjustments to income. Depending on your situation, these could include deductions for traditional IRA contributions, student loan interest deduction, alimony paid, and others.
Where do I learn more about taxes?
See the list of websites on the Graduate School’s Tax Information page.