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Exempt Individual: A person not subject to the Substantial Presence Test (see below), which determines whether an individual files as a resident or nonresident. Many students misunderstand this to mean they are not required to file a tax return and or pay taxes.
Internal Revenue Service: Also known as the IRS, this is the federal agency responsible for collecting federal income taxes and enforcing tax reporting and collection laws.
Nonimmigrant: An individual with a permanent residence abroad and in the U.S. temporarily, as in the case of an international student.
Nonresident: An individual who is not a U.S. citizen, U.S. permanent resident or nonimmigrant who has been in the U.S. long enough to be considered a resident. Residency is determined by the Substantial Presence Test (see below).
Social Security: A term used to describe an agency, a card, and two types of tax. The Social Security Administration (SSA) is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The card bears a unique nine-digit identification number and is issued to qualified individuals primarily to determine eligibility for social benefits earned primarily through various forms of employment. The number on the card is also used by the IRS for data collection and record keeping. The taxes, known as Social Security and Medicare (collectively "FICA"), are withheld by employers from workers' wages and paid to the federal government for redistribution to workers after their retirement. The FICA amount withheld from wages is 7.65% of total earnings up to a certain salary level.
Substantial Presence Test: A formula devised by the IRS to determine whether an alien is a resident or nonresident for tax purposes. F and J students do not use the test during their first five calendar years in the U.S.. After that time, individuals who spend more than 183 days a year or more in the U.S. become "residents for tax purposes" for that year.
Tax Treaty: An agreement between the U.S. and another country to determine how the country's nationals will be taxed when temporarily in the U.S.. A treaty can confer certain tax benefits. A note of caution, however. Tax treaties are very specific, and not all residents of a tax treaty country will qualify for tax benefits.
Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN): Individuals who are not eligible for a Social Security number receive from the IRS a unique nine-digit number for tax purposes.
Withholding: Deduction of a given amount of an individuals salary for purposes of meeting that individuals income tax obligation. Amounts are deducted directly by the employer and paid directly to the U.S. Treasury on the individual's behalf.