Non-Resident Alien Guidelines & Tax Treaties
The United States has negotiated tax treaties with many other countries in the world. Oregon has chosen to honor these tax treaties and Portland State University has chosen to extend treaty benefits through payroll to those employees who are eligible under the provisions of a tax treaty.
Please bear in mind that not all treaties exempt income earned in the United States from income taxes. Some treaties exempt income received from foreign sources for the support of a student or faculty member while here. Most treaties contain clauses to eliminate double taxation of a foreign national while here. The true limit on most treaties is calculated from the first date of arrival in the United States. IRS rules regarding treaties can be found in Publication 519—US Tax Guide for Aliens and in Publication 901—US Tax Treaties.
Remember that Tax Residency and Citizenship are not the same. The information provided on these pages refers to Tax Residency. Considerations evaluated relative to what taxes you may be subject to on your income are based on a set of criteria. Your income tax determination will hinge upon your eligibility for a tax treaty and your FICA (Social Security and Medicare) is determined by the type of visa you have been granted and whether you have met the test for substantial presence or the green card test.
The following information should assist you in further understanding these provisions.
- Non-Resident Alien (NRA): Non-US citizen who holds a VISA. Some VISAs allow the holder to work with the proper authorization. Non-Resident Alien employees are subject to Federal and State income taxes and may be exempt from FICA withholdings. There are restrictions imposed when completing the Form W-4 due to Internal Revenue Service filing options for NRAs. You may refer to IRS Topic 851 for additional information.
- Resident Alien (RA): Non-US citizen who holds a Green Card or qualifies under the "Substantial Presence Test." If you become a lawful permanent resident of the US at any time during the calendar year you are considered a resident alien. Resident Alien employees are subject to Federal and State income taxes as well as FICA withholdings under the same rules as a US citizen.
Are you eligible for a tax treaty?
If you believe you may be eligible under the provisions of a tax treaty, review the list of home countries below to find out whether a negotiated treaty is established with the United States that has a provision that would be applicable.
Required forms for all Non-Resident Alien and International Employees
The CO-NRA form is a required form for all international employees. It allows us to determine what taxes you are subject to in the US and evaluate your treaty eligibility (if applicable). Foreign employees must fill this out when:
- Employment begins
- Visa Status changes
- At the start of each calendar (tax) year—due by January 10th
- Failure to submit a CO-NRA on time will result in all taxes being withheld from your pay until such time that you submit the form to the Office of Human Resources.
- If your home country has negotiated a treaty with the United States and you would like to claim treaty benefits, click on the link below for your country (to view/print) and fill out the treaty letter attachment. Then complete the IRS Form 8233 (if your country is not listed below, you do not need to complete the Form 8233).
- Submit all of the completed forms to the Office of Human Resources along with your I-20 or DS-2019, on-campus work authorization and passport with visa and I-94.