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Please note: Beyond the information offered on this site, University staff cannot assist you in tax matters. If you need assistance completing your taxes, you should consult with a qualified tax specialist or a CPA firm.
Stipends can be considered taxable income for international students. Every recipient of a University-issued stipend is required to have a unique taxpayer ID number. This number is used by the University to report the payment and withholding of local, state, and federal taxes.
If you have a US Social Security number (SSN), this is your taxpayer ID number. Note: This is not the 9-digit number assigned by Columbia. An SSN is assigned by the federal government and should never be shared via email.
If you do not have an SSN and are not eligible to apply for one on the basis of employment, you will need to apply for an Individual Taxpayer ID Number (ITIN). You will need this number to receive your stipend check from the University and to file a US tax return in the spring for US income received during the previous calendar year.
For more information about US tax return requirements for international students, visit the International Students and Scholars Office website.
COMMON QUESTIONS: SOCIAL SECURITY AND INDIVIDUAL TAXPAYER NUMBERS
Who qualifies for a SSN?
Students in F-1 and J-1 status are eligible to receive a Social Security Number if they have on-campus employment. Doctoral students receiving a stipend their first year may also qualify for a Social Security Number. Click here for more information on applying for an SSN.
Who needs to apply for an ITIN?
Students who are not eligible for an SSN but who are receiving any type of payment or reimbursement from the University must apply for an ITIN through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The IRS has special rules for F and J students to apply for an ITIN through the international office. Please go to the ISSO with your passport for assistance.
Students in a status other than F or J will need to follow IRS instructions for filing form W-7. See ITIN - Individual Taxpayer ID Number for more information.
How do I apply for an ITIN?
To apply for an ITIN, complete IRS Form W-7 and follow its instructions.
To ensure that the University will be notified and report the correct IRS issued number, enter the following information on Line #3 on the W-7 form:
Columbia University Human Resources
615 W. 131 Street
New York, NY 10027
Unlike an SSN application which is made in person and for which an application receipt is issued on the spot, a W-7 ITIN application is mailed to IRS.
Why are taxes withheld from Scholarship Automation payments made to international students, but not payments made to domestic students?
Even though non-qualified scholarship or fellowship payments are taxable to the domestic student, the IRS does not require the University to withhold tax or report the payments to the IRS. Students, however, are required to report non-qualified scholarship and fellowship payments to IRS on their individual tax returns. The IRS requirements are different, however, for "non-qualified" payments to international students. The IRS generally requires taxes be withheld at the rate of 14% and the scholarship/fellowship amounts be reported to both the IRS and the student on IRS Form 1042-S. Only those international students who are eligible for tax treaty benefits are exempted from tax withholding on the non-qualified amounts. For more information, please send an email to Carlos Lira-Coppa or call 212-851-2849.
For more information regarding student and scholar and tax obligations, please contact ISSO.
Direct deposit allows you to receive your stipend up to 50% faster than with a paper check, so we encourage you to enroll. If you are an international student who wants to receive stipend payments by direct deposit, you must:
- be registered for classes,
- have a U.S. bank account, and
- have received at least one stipend payment by paper check
If you prefer a paper stipend check, you can pick it up at the Cashier’s Office:
Location: 210 Kent Hall
Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. & 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m., Monday – Friday
Until you receive your SSN or ITIN card, you must bring a copy of the receipt issued when you applied for an SSN or a copy of IRS Form W-7 (if you applied for an ITIN instead) to receive your check.