How to Complete Your Nonresident PhD Trainee Tax Return
(and Understand It, Too!)
2023 Edition
Taught by
Dr. Emily Roberts
Are you perplexed or frustrated by your nonresident graduate student, postdoc, or postbac tax return?

This workshop walks you through all the elements of your nonresident tax return that related to your student or trainee status and income.
You Are Not Alone
The tax software packages designed for nonresidents are excellent! But nonresident graduate students, postdocs, and postbacs often want additional reassurance that they have prepared their returns correctly. That is where this educational tax workshop comes in.
Who Is This Workshop for?
The intended participant in this workshop was (in 2023):
  • In the US on an F-1 or J-1 visa
  • A grad student, postdoc, or postbac for at least part of the year
  • On a stipend or salary
This workshop is specifically for nonresidents. If you are not sure if you were a nonresident or resident for tax purposes, you should enroll! One of the modules clarifies who is a nonresident vs. resident.
If it turns out that you are a resident for tax purpose, we can switch you to the appropriate sister workshop for residents for tax purposes or refund your purchase.
I'm Ready for the Workshop—Let's Go!
Why You Should Join This Tax Workshop
The workshop takes the stress, struggle, and time waste out of preparing your tax return by showing you exactly how to handle the visa, tax treaty, and stipend/salary-related aspects of your tax return.

This is the only educational tax product available that is specifically designed for nonresident graduate students, postdocs, and postbacs.
1. The workshop explains the basics of both the US income tax system generally for nonresidents and how academic income and expenses fit into it.

The questions answered include:

  • Who has to file a tax return, and who has to file a Form 8843?
  • What is my marital filing status?
  • What income is taxed by the US?
  • What tax rates apply to this income?
  • What is meant by the terms gross income, net income, deductions, and credits?
  • How does income tax withholding work?
  • What are the types of income I might receive as a grad student, postdoc, or postbac and what forms will they be reflected on?
  • How do qualified scholarships affect my tax return?
2. The workshop answers the question "Am I a nonresident or resident for tax purposes?"
If you're not sure if you're a nonresident, the workshop will clear it up for you with a deep dive into the Substantial Presence Test and the definition of an exempt individual.
3. The workshop provides clear instructions for how to look up either the full text or a summary of the tax treaty between the US and your country of residence—or confirm that there isn't one.
It also helps you navigate and interpret the text so that you know what benefits are available to you.
4. The tax workshop details two types of deductions that nonresidents often skip over—qualified education expenses (for students) and itemized deductions.
When you better understand these deductions, you'll feel more comfortable pursuing them—which lowers your overall tax liability / increases your refund!
5. The workshop shows you which lines need to be filled out in your various tax forms.
This is a great way to check the return generated for you by tax software or a tax preparer.
6. The workshop provides four worksheets to help you keep track of data for your substantial presence test, tax treaty, and education expenses.
By the time you complete the workshop, you will:
  • Be confident that you have correctly classified yourself as a nonresident (or resident for tax purposes)
  • Have examined every avenue for minimizing your higher education-related tax liability.
  • Recognize mistakes in your previous tax returns and see the opportunity to revise them (if applicable).
  • Better understand the US tax system and the tax treaty with your country of residence (if there is one).
  • Experience peace of mind that your tax return is accurate.

The workshop will benefit you no matter which method you ultimately use to prepare your tax return: DIY with the IRS's Free Fillable Forms, tax software, or a professional tax preparer.

Let Me in the Workshop!
(from Other Versions of This Workshop)
This is the first year I'm offering this nonresident version of How to Complete Your PhD Trainee Tax Return (and Understand It, Too!), so the reviews below are for the sister workshops for US citizens/residents.

"I purchased your tax workshop... your resource totally saved my life!! I now have a strong grasp of my PhD finances and my fellowship forms (where the numbers come from, and why they might not be 100% correct based on additional expenses or which may be deemed a required expense or not).

"Your workshop is especially appreciated since I originally had VITA volunteers at my institution prepare my tax return, but they were uncertain about many things. I refrained from filing with them, and instead purchased your workshop and am now so excited and relieved to have a firm grasp on my funding/taxes as a first-year PhD student. I only recently noticed a serious error in the draft of my 1040 that VITA prepared, so I'm feeling especially lucky, and grateful to your workshop. Thank you so much!"

"[What I found valuable was] the clarity and detail of each video; the thorough response to my question submitted through the Q&A form; the focus on support conceptual understanding of, not simply procedural fluency with, tax returns. This was such a one-of-a-kind workshop...
Last year I had a very difficult time getting a question answered from people affiliated with my university, so I was drawn to an "outside" expert who was focused on *my* understanding, not protecting the university.

"I feel really confident this year that I did everything right and that I didn't under- or over-report. I am just so grateful I had this to walk me through a stressful task."

"The slide visuals, relevant examples, pace, and language were effective in addressing common problems/misunderstandings and translating that in an accessible and educational way. Having access to Q+As was equally as useful for better understanding how my situation relates to other grad students' situations and absorbing additional information."

"The information provided in the workshop was invaluable. I'm one of the PhDs on a stipend with no documentation and not aware that I needed to make estimated payments. I'm happy to say that my taxes for 2021 are filed and I have already made my estimated tax payments for the first quarter of 2022."

"[The workshop] has been super helpful! The videos were clear and it made filling out my forms pretty straightforward despite the odd situation of being a graduate student. It definitely helped me feel less intimidated by everything as well."
Anonymous (parent of a graduate student):

"Your website and workshop have proven to be invaluable resources. We pointed out a lot to [our] tax preparer that she did not take into account in her original calculations. We persisted when she initially thought we were wrong, using the IRS info that you reference (especially helpful). I read them in depth and confirmed everything you stated (all correct!). Eventually, the tax preparer realized this as well, and in the end it saved my daughter over $1000!"

"The workshop was excellent. Particularly useful was the discussion of education benefits—I finally understood what counted and why."

"I appreciated the different segments and that the workshop was tailored to someone in my position with the questions I have. I didn't feel any of the material in the workshop itself was unclear and it was easy to pick up and work through the videos at my own pace. I also really appreciated [Emily's] availability - it was really nice to know that if I had any questions, I could just ask [her] directly!

"When I did my taxes through a free tax software, I was able to identify that something had been calculated incorrectly and it was probably instructing me to overpay on my taxes. That was thanks to this workshop."

"The workshop sections addressed each scenario that could apply to grad students so that I could identify the relevant portions. I appreciated the thorough information—even when the sections didn't apply to me—because it gave me a full picture of all of the components that I may need to consider as I prepared my taxes."

"[This workshop] is my go-to source for how to complete this very tricky process. Emily does her homework, updating things in real time, and also offers the Q&As. The entire package is comprehensive."

"The workshop does a great job explaining how to handle educational credits with a helpful accompanying worksheet."

"[The workshop is] extremely easy to follow!"

"It was worth the cost just to feel confident that I calculated my income correctly! I also think the info will be helpful for future anticipated changes to my income (e.g., fellowships)."

"The live Q&A sessions were great."

"Thank you so much for the informative workshop about how to handle fellowship income for tax purposes. I am so surprised that universities, granting agencies and especially accountants are not providing this information to grad students and post-docs who struggle with this unique situation... I have been able to file my 2020 taxes. I know how to file an amended return for 2019, and I know how to calculate and file quarterly estimated taxes for 2021. Thank you for providing the information and the helpful Q&A sessions... I will be recommending your workshops to other grad students and post-docs."
Who Teaches the Workshop?
I'm Emily Roberts, the founder of Personal Finance for PhDs and creator of this workshop.

I started out on the PhD track just like you are. I completed my PhD in biomedical engineering at Duke University in 2014 after living for seven years on a stipend.

During that time, my passion for personal finance grew and grew, as did my desire to serve my own community.

I founded my business, Personal Finance for PhDs, after I defended. Over the years, I've found many avenues to assist PhDs with their personal finances, including speaking engagements at universities, individual and group financial coaching, webinars and workshops, ebooks, and my podcast.

This is the sixth year running that I have taught this tax material, and it has benefitted over two thousand PhD trainees so far.
What Do You Get When You Join the Workshop?
When you join the workshop, you will receive immediate access to a set of thirteen modules that methodically teach you how to prepare your nonresident PhD Trainee tax return and five worksheets to help you keep your data organized.

You will also have the opportunity to ask me questions asynchronously throughout tax season. You can submit questions in writing, and I will respond within two weeks.
Don't waste any more time and energy—purchase the tax workshop now!
What Is the Cost?
The price of the workshop is $34.

You will have access to the workshop's videos and worksheets for the rest of tax season, plus you'll have the opportunity to submit your questions in writing. All submitted questions are posted and answered in writing in the Q&A module.
I want to finish my tax return
the stress-free way!

Thank you for allowing me to assist you with this particularly challenging aspect of your PhD life!

Frequently Asked Questions
Is this workshop the only resource I need to prepare and file my tax return?

I recommend that you use this educational workshop to supplement your tax preparation process with tax software or a tax preparer, not replace it. The two most popular software packages for preparing nonresident tax returns are Sprintax and Glacier Tax Prep.

How much time does the workshop take?

I think you should set aside a few hours to complete the workshop, perhaps broken up into two sessions if you need to retrieve information.

What is the format of each workshop module?

Each module comprises a video in voice-over-slides format and a full transcript in slides-and-script format.

Do I need to know anything about taxes?

The workshop assumes you have no familiarity with the tax system and explains everything you need to know from the ground up.

What if I have questions that the workshop modules and worksheets don't answer?

I'm answering questions asynchronously throughout tax season. You can submit a question in writing, and I will post a response or email you within two weeks.

For how long will I have access to the workshop? Can I use it next tax season as well?

The workshop will remain available through the extended tax filing deadline in October 2024. I don't leave any single version of the workshop available in perpetuity because tax law and IRS forms are updated every year, and I don't want you working from outdated information.

What is your refund policy?

I offer a satisfaction guarantee with this workshop, so if for whatever reason you realize it's not a good fit for you, simply email [email protected] and I will refund the purchase price.

Can I purchase this for my department/program/group?

Absolutely! I discount the workshop price to $25 per person for bulk purchases and offer a volume bonus. Please email me ([email protected]) to set up the purchase.

Since You've Read This Far...
Check out a sample of the course content!

This is the Introduction video.
I'm ready to dive into the workshop!