Student Tax FAQs

These FAQs are intended to help students obtain a basic understanding of their tax obligations. They offer generalized information only. For individual guidance and assistance with questions, please contact an accountant or tax advisor, as the University cannot provide students with individual tax guidance.

For issues particular to international students, please refer to the Nonresident Withholding Tax FAQs.

Student Tax Basics
Do I have to file an income tax return?

Whether or not you need to file income tax returns depends on many factors, including your total income and your filing status.

For federal income tax, a chart is available at http://www.irs.gov/publications/p554/ch01.html, showing filing requirements for the 2013 tax year. According to the chart, if you were single and under the age of 65, you had to file a federal tax return if you had at least $10,000 in income in 2013. If you were married and intend to file taxes jointly with your spouse, then you had to file a tax return if you had at least $20,000 in income. The chart should be revised in the coming months to reflect filing requirements for the 2014 tax year.

For Connecticut income tax, information is available from the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services (“DRS”) at http://www.ct.gov/drs/cwp/view.asp?a=1462&q=499520. The DRS indicates that if you are single, you must file a Connecticut income tax return if you had at least $12,000 in income. If you are married and intend to file jointly with your spouse, then you must file a Connecticut income tax return if you had at least $24,000 in income. If you are from a state besides Connecticut, or if you worked in a state beside Connecticut, the other state may also require you to file a tax return. You should obtain more information directly from that state’s tax agency, such as a department of revenue.

Should I file income tax returns even if I don’t have to?

Even if you’re not required to file a tax return, you still may want to file one if you had a job that withheld taxes from your paycheck. You may be able to get a refund of the taxes that were withheld. Additionally, you might be eligible for certain types of refundable tax credits like the Earned Income Credit, Additional Child Tax Credit, or credits associated with education. More information can be obtained from your accountant or from IRS publications like Instructions for Form 1040 (2013) or Publication 970: Tax Benefits for Education (2013).

When are income tax returns due?

Personal income taxes are due each year by April 15.

What do I need in order to file my income tax returns?

The necessary information and forms vary from person to person. For example, if you have a job, your employer should provide you with Form W-2 in the first few months of the year. You might also receive Form 1098-T from the University, or a Form 1042-S if you are an international student. If you have investments or bank accounts, you might also receive certain sorts of tax forms such as Form 1099 from your financial institution.

I don’t have a job. Does this mean I don’t have any income?

Not necessarily. The term “income” can apply to a wide variety of things. Besides a job, you may have other sources of income such as investments or bank accounts. Additionally, income does not always have to be in the form of money you receive. For example, if you receive a grant or scholarship, part or all of that grant or scholarship might count as income, depending on your individual circumstances.

Common Types of Income for Students
Do I have to pay taxes on money that I earn from my job?

Money that you earn from employment (including work study positions) is taxable income. Your employer may be withholding tax from your regular paychecks. If so, the amount of tax that your employer has withheld from you will appear on your regular pay statements and will be summarized at the end of the year in a tax form known as Form W-2, which your employer should provide to you. When you file your tax returns, you may be eligible to receive some or all the tax back in the form of a refund.

If your employer does not withhold tax, it does not mean that your earnings are not subject to tax. Money that you earn from your job is reportable on your tax return, regardless of whether your employer withholds tax. See Do I have to file tax returns? above.

Do I have to pay taxes on my scholarship, fellowship or grant?

It depends. Please refer to Publication 970: Tax Benefits for Education (2013) from the Internal Revenue Service. Generally, scholarships, fellowships and grants are not taxable to the extent that they pay for (i) required tuition and fees; and (ii) books, supplies and equipment required for your courses. If your scholarship, fellowship or grant exceeds the costs of required tuition, fees, books, supplies and equipment, then the excess is taxable income, which you are required to report to the IRS when you file a tax return.

In Publication 970 and proposed Treasury Regulations, the IRS indicates that charges for room, board, insurance and medical expenses (including student health fees) are not considered required expenses. Therefore, a grant or scholarship that covers any of these items may be taxable to you.

It is the sole responsibility of the student to claim taxable scholarships on his or her tax return. Consistent with IRS guidance, the University generally does not withhold taxes on taxable scholarships except in limited circumstances involving international students.

Where can I get information about the amount of my scholarship and required tuition and fees?

The best sources of information will generally be your award letter and your fee bill. The University also prepares Form 1098-T for many students. Form 1098-T may also be a good source of information about scholarships, tuition and fees, but please keep in mind that the University is not required to prepare Form 1098-T for every student. For example, the University does not have to prepare a Form 1098-T for students who are not United States residents for tax purposes, or for students whose tuition is waived entirely or paid by scholarships. (In previous years, the University has prepared Form 1098-T for these groups of students, notwithstanding the fact that it has not been required to do so.)

If the University prepares a Form 1098-T for you, then the amount in Box 2 will show the amount that the University billed you for qualified (required) tuition and related expenses. Note that the University does not report the amount that a student has actually paid for tuition and related expenses anywhere on Form 1098-T. If you received a partial tuition waiver, then the amount reported in Box 2 will be the “net” amount you were billed after the waiver. Box 5 of Form 1098-T shows the amount of scholarships or grants (other than tuition waivers).

I get health insurance through UConn at a discounted rate because I am a GA or because of my fellowship. Does this mean I have to pay more tax?

In order to attract talented students, the University pays substantial amounts of money to subsidize the costs of health and dental insurance for certain graduate students, such as graduate assistants and fellows. As a result of the subsidy, some students are only responsible for a small portion of the total cost of insurance. For example, in the 2014-2015 academic year, the total price of health insurance for a single GA will be $4,257. GAs who choose to obtain insurance through the University will only have to pay $200 of this total, and the University will be responsible for the remaining $4,057. This remainder that the University pays on the GA’s behalf (which will be higher for students who obtain family insurance coverage) is considered a scholarship.

Because medical and insurance costs, including student health fees, are not required for enrollment, a scholarship that covers these costs may be taxable to you. See Do I have to pay taxes on my scholarship, fellowship or grant? above.

Regardless of whether the University’s contribution to your insurance costs is a taxable scholarship, the University does not withhold any tax on the contribution except in limited cases involving international students. Consistent with IRS guidance, it is the responsibility of the student to determine whether to claim the contribution as income on his or her tax returns. The University cannot provide individualized tax guidance and cannot tell you how to complete your personal income tax returns.

Why aren’t Student Health Fees considered to be expenses that are required for enrollment?

The term “qualified tuition and related expenses” refers to those charges that are required for attendance or coursework at the University, and do not include optional charges such as room and board or insurance costs. IRS Publication 970 indicates explicitly that “medical expenses (including student health fees)” are not qualified tuition and related expenses. Even though the University requires all students to maintain health insurance, many students are covered by a personal insurance policy or a plan carried by their parents, and they do not pay the Student Health Fee.

I won a contest or I was given a prize by my department. Why do I have to fill out tax forms?

Generally speaking, all prizes and awards are taxable income, which may be subject to tax if your total income reaches a certain level. This is true regardless of whether the prize is in the form of cash, Husky Bucks or a gift card. It is the student’s responsibility to claim the value of prizes and awards on his or her tax returns.

As a precondition to receiving a prize or award, the University may ask you to complete and sign Form W-9. If the student completes a valid Form W-9, the University is not required to withhold any tax on the prize, and the University is not required to report the payment to the IRS unless the prize (when added to any other prizes or awards you received from the University during the year) equals $600 or more.

If you are not a United States resident for tax purposes, then you will not be able to complete Form W-9. In this case, the University is required to withhold 30% of the prize and report the prize to you on Form 1042-S. An exception exists in very limited circumstances where the student is a resident of a country that has a particular type of tax treaty with the United States.

Who do I do if I have more questions?

Since the University cannot advise you with regard to your personal tax situation, you should contact your accountant or personal tax advisor. You might also consult Publication 970: Tax Benefits for Education (2013) for generalized information from the Internal Revenue Service.