FICA refund for F1 visa / OPT / CPT students

IRS Guideline: Social Security/Medicare and Self-Employment Tax Liability of Foreign Students, Scholars, Teachers, Researchers, and Trainees

What is FICA?

FICA is the abbreviation of the Federal Insurance Contribution Act. The FICA tax is a United States federal payroll tax administered to both employees and employers to fund Medicare and Social Security.

This means that when you come into the United States on an F1 visa and work on a CPT/OPT, you can get a FICA tax refund from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) if you’ve been paying these taxes.

How to know if FICA taxes was withheld?

At the end of every fiscal year, your employer sends you form W2 which reports wages paid to you and the taxes withheld from them. This documents will help you determine how much FICA taxes was withheld.

On your W2, Box 4 represents the Social Security tax withheld and Box 6 represents the Medicare tax withheld.

How do international students claim their FICA tax refund?

Good news is international students on F1 and J1 visa are exempt from FICA taxes.

In case your taxes cannot be refunded and they are withheld due to an error your employer made, you need to get in contact with your employer and ask them for details on the situation. If you won’t be getting a full refund from your employer, you need to file a claim with the IRS.

In order to file that claim, you need to fill out Form 843. The 843 form is the Claim for Refund and Request for Abatement. Additionally, you need to attach the following documents:

  • Form W2
  • Form 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ
  • Passport showing your visa
  • I94 card
  • I20 (if applicable) to show CPT or OPT status
  • EAD card (if applicable)
  • Statement that you requested a refund from your employer but were unsuccessful (the letter you received from your employer or your own statement)
  • If applicable, Form 8316, which is the Information Regarding Request for Refund of Social Security Tax Erroneously Withheld on Wages Received by a Nonresident Alien on an F, J, or M Type Visa (PDF)

You can claim FICA refund for until 3 years after tax filing. One thing to note is the refund application is not a quick process and may take several months.

1040nra.com self prep tax tool for FICA refund

You can send the refund application yourself or if you find it difficult to prepare the form, use 1040nra.com self prep software which will guide you through the process and generate pre filled forms which you can mail to the IRS.

We are always available for help. You can reach out to us at support@1040nra.com

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