U.S. Income Tax

The Basics:

All international students who are in the U.S. for any period of time during any calendar year must file a federal tax return, even if they do not have U.S. source income. Depending on income and withholdings, some international students may also need to file an Iowa income tax return.

The tax year runs from January 1 to December 31 of each calendar year. Federal tax returns for the prior year are due on April 15 of the following year (Example:  2021 tax return must be submitted by April 15, 2022.)

During International Student Orientation, you completed Form W-4 which allows Luther to withhold the correct amount of federal income taxes from your paychecks throughout the year. If you receive taxable scholarship from Luther, there will also be federal (and state) taxes withheld. Your tax return is like an end-of-year reconciliation; if the amount withheld was more than what you owe, you will get a refund, and if the amount you owe is greater than what was withheld, you will owe a tax payment.

Tax Treaties

Some countries have tax treaties with the United States which exempt them from federal income tax withholdings.


Luther partners with GLACIER to manage tax compliance for international students. During International Student Orientation, you set up your account in GLACIER so that Luther can accurately calculate your tax withholdings on scholarship income and track any tax treaty that your country may have with the U.S.

In late winter/early spring, CIES will email you with instructions on how to access GLACIER Tax Prep (GTP) software to complete your federal tax return. We will also include instructions on how to determine if you need to file an Iowa tax return and, if so, how to prepare the Iowa return on your own (GTP does not offer state tax return preparation).


**Please note that CIES staff members do not have the training or legal authority to provide individual tax advice to students. Students should direct specific tax questions to the IRS, Glacier Tax Prep support, or another tax professional. All general tax information that CIES provides should be viewed and used as a resource.**

CIES will share resources and tax filings tips with our students throughout the tax season. Please watch our weekly newsletter, as well as emails from CIES, for more information.