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How to do taxes: Getting started

Many students need to file tax returns independently from their family, so it’s important to know how taxes and tax credits apply to you.

Getting started

Your education-related expenses may qualify you for deductions and credits that can lighten your financial burden. While we have some suggestions in the basic overview below, your best bet is to visit the IRS website or consult a tax professional.

U.S. federal taxes

The federal government makes it easy for students to comply with the law. The 1040 form, which applies to most college students, is readily available online at and can be completed easily as long as you have your W-2 (and possibly 1099) forms. These are the forms employers provide the government showing your earnings and any withholdings.

State taxes

If you are a non-resident (out of state) student and earn income while at school, consult the official Massachusetts state-tax website to determine whether your income requires you to file a non-resident return. If you also earned money at home, in some cases, you may need to file state tax returns in both of your respective states.

International students

International students temporarily in the U.S. are subject to special rules when it comes to income tax. The International Students Office and the Office of the Vice President for Finance both provide information and advice to help international students complete their taxes and make sure they are complying with U.S. tax requirements.

Learn more

More comprehensive information is found on the IRS website, which includes an Interactive Tax Assistance tool that may help you determine what credits or deductions are available to you.

Please note: The information provided is intended for general guidance purposes only with the understanding that MIT does not offer legal, accounting, or tax advice and services. It should not be used as a substitute for consultation with a professional accounting, tax, or legal adviser. MIT recommends that students consult a tax advisor for advice on their particular situation.