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William Perez

Refund of Social Security and Medicare Taxes for Nonresident Aliens

By January 31, 2007

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Today's tax question comes from Ronnie in New York. He asks:

"I was wondering if you would be able to help me find the answer to my question. I did my undergrad here in the US and am a current student in a Masters program also in the US as an international student. I was on my OPT (optional practical training) from August 2004 to August 2005. Now, I have researched quite a bit and also called the tax refund number listed on the IRS website to confirm if I am eligible for a refund of my Social Security and Medicare taxes and so far, all my research points to a yes. Since I am on an F-1 visa and have never worked without INS authorization under a student visa, all the articles I have read state that I am allowed to file for a social security/medicare tax refund. Now I did not know this while I was on my OPT. But since my OPT ended August 2005, do you think I can still file for my refund for Social Security and Medicare taxes?"

 

Great question, Ronnie. Non-immigrant scholars on an F-1, J-1, M-1, or Q-1 Visa are exempt from Social Security and Medicare taxes and may claim a refund for the employee's share of these taxes withheld from your paycheck. You must first attempt to claim a refund from your employer. If that fails, you can submit your refund claim to the Internal Revenue Service.

The clearest explanation of this issue was found in an IRS training manual for volunteer tax preparers, Publication 678-FS (no longer published), starting on page 8-1:

"An exemption from Social security and Medicare taxes applies to nonimmigrant students, scholars, teachers, researchers, and trainees (including medical interns) who are temporarily present in the U.S. in F-1, J-1, M-1, or Q-1 status, as long as they remain nonresidents for federal income tax purposes. The exemption also applies to any period in which a foreign student is in 'practical training' or other off-campus employment allowed by the USCIS. Such persons are exempt from Social security and Medicare taxes as long as they remain nonresident aliens for tax purposes. Those who become resident aliens must start paying Social security and Medicare taxes."

 

The IRS briefly lists the steps for claiming a refund of Social Security and Medicare taxes on their Web site. This topic is also discussed in chapter 8 of Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens. There is a three-year statute of limitations for claiming tax refunds.

Comments
February 14, 2009 at 5:19 pm
(1) Ragu says:

Hi, Thanks for the post.
Is it (SS tax refund) true for a professional on a H1B visa who wants to return back to India?

August 12, 2009 at 2:01 pm
(2) Praveen says:

I worked in USA for 3 years on J1 Visa and went back to India early this year (2009) for good. Can I get my social security funds back?

August 12, 2009 at 8:27 pm
(3) William Perez says:

Ragu, workers with H-1b visas are not exempt from Social Security and Medicare taxes (also called FICA taxes).

Praveen, yes, students working in the USA on a J-1 visa are entitled to a refund of any FICA taxes that were withheld in error. The best thing is to contact your previous employer and ask them for a refund. If that fails, you can submit documentation to the IRS to ask for a refund.

The IRS Web site has a detailed discussion of liability for or exemption from FICA taxes by various types of visa classifications at: http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/international/article/0,,id=129427,00.html. The steps involved in obtaining a refund of FICA tax is found in chapter 8 of Publication 519: http://www.irs.gov/publications/p519/ch08.html#en_US_publink100039396

August 19, 2011 at 6:52 pm
(4) Tiffany says:

How is the employer able to refund the FICA taxes?

January 25, 2010 at 3:42 pm
(5) Vamsi says:

I would Definitely Say that This is a great article which points International Students to right Direction.

I would also Suggest People to Visit the below

http://www.usvisataxes.com/articles/taxes-for-international-students-on-optional-practical-training.html

May 18, 2010 at 10:31 am
(6) Uma says:

Hi. I have applied for a refund of my Social Security and Medicare taxes. Is there any place where I can check the status of my refund. Its been almost 3 months since I have applied for them.
Thanks.

June 14, 2010 at 6:05 pm
(7) Susheel says:

Hello guys,

I seem to be having a similar issue as Uma.
Can anyone help me with the following question? Where or how can I check the status of my Social security & medicare tax refund?

It’s been close to 3 months since I sent in my return forms since my employer did not refund the same to me. So, I’m anxious to know if they’ve received my returns in the first place, and if yes, when can I get a refund!!

Hope one of you out there can give us a good answer.. Thanks in advance!!

July 14, 2010 at 4:48 pm
(8) RAJ says:

Hello guys,I seem to be having a similar issue as Uma and susheel.Please help ….

July 14, 2010 at 8:29 pm
(9) William Perez says:

You will have to call the IRS and inquire about the status of your refund. The IRS’s online refund status application only tracks income tax refunds, not refunds for excess Social Security and Medicare taxes. Also, these sorts of refund claims take much longer for the IRS to process.

August 8, 2010 at 3:49 pm
(10) Dhwani says:

I am on L1A visa and returning to India. . Am I eligible for refund of Socila Secuirty tax. If yes what is the process

August 9, 2010 at 8:56 pm
(11) William Perez says:

Dhwani, people who worked in the United States on an L-1 work visa are not eligible for a refund of Social Security and Medicare taxes. Only persons working under the F-1, J-1, M-1, or Q-1 visas are eligible.

February 18, 2011 at 2:53 pm
(12) Rohan says:

I tried to get SSN and Medicare tax refund from my employer, though they said they cannot refund. Do i need to get any letter stating that and if i file for claim does it effect my relation with employer ? it would be great if someone can answer my questions. Thanks! in advance

August 3, 2011 at 3:00 pm
(13) Leo says:

After I found out the tax was withheld in err last year by my employer, I asked them for the refund. Then they filed some documents for me this past January and asked IRS for the refund. It’s been half a year and I still haven’t got my refund. I’m wondering how long it will take for getting the refund back. Is there a way to know if my request has been processed?
I’ve tried to contact IRS. First it takes forever to wait for somebody to answer you. Then the representatives didn’t seem to know much about OPT and the tax withholding err.

April 6, 2012 at 6:26 pm
(14) ASR says:

Hi Willam,

I have a query…..I have entered in US on 30th Nov 2011 and I had got paid from 1st Dec to 31st Dec 2011 ( 31 days overall in 2011). I am on L1 visa and , as per my stay in year 2011 I am a non resident alien too. In this case, will I get a social security and medicare tax refund?

Just FYI please… I have never been to US before that.. This is the first time I would be filing tax return for US.

August 9, 2012 at 11:35 am
(15) Devarsh says:

Hi,

I filed for a refund of my Social Security and Medicare taxes back in April. I havent received any update or the refund yet from the Dept of Treasury. Is there a way I can get a status on this?

Thanks

September 13, 2012 at 3:50 pm
(16) ZX says:

Hi,
I had filed for refund of SSN And Medicare taxes in march, I did get refund in the month of september by mail.

December 14, 2012 at 7:54 am
(17) Radina says:

Hello,
I would like to ask the following question:
My dad is a Bulgarian who has been working as a private employee for a couple of years in the US between 1990 and 1992. He has a Social Security Number and a driver licence, so now he would like to know how can he claim a tax refund for these years (if it is possible).
Could you please inform me what is the procedure?
Kind Regards,
Radina Nedyalkova

January 16, 2013 at 5:06 pm
(18) Emelie says:

Question:
I came to the US as an high school exchange student (I think J-1?) in 2006-2007. I then came back on a F-1 2008-2012 and I’m currently on OPT (July 2012-July 2013). Am I considered a resident ailen for tax purposes or can I still claim as a non-resident ailen? I claimed as a non-resident last year but attached a letter proving my ties to my home country and intention to return since I was getting mixed advice on wether I should file as a non-resident or resident.. What would be most beneficial to me? Claiming a refund of social security and medicare or file as a resident?

Thanks!

February 17, 2013 at 1:27 am
(19) nag says:

Hi guys ,
Right now i am on F1 OPT. My employer withheld my SSN and Medicare tax. I tried from my employer but it fails for refund.
Now i want file from IRS , but the above links are not working ,can anyone provide new links or anyone help me out how to fill SSN and Medicare?

Thanks,

February 24, 2013 at 11:18 pm
(20) HT says:

@^^^^^ here you go….go to Chapter 9 under the section “Refund of Taxes Withheld in Error”

http://www.irs.gov/publications/p519/ch08.html#en_US_publink1000222688

Best of luck….I am on your boat!

March 30, 2013 at 3:55 pm
(21) Marty says:

Recently while traveling to UK ,I met a lady from the UK, who had lived and worked in USA for over 10 years and had earned credits for Medicare and even received a Medicare card. Now she is back in the UK. When she comes to the US to see family she has to buy travel insurance which is verrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry expensive for those traveling to the US, well over 700 pounds. She asked me to seek out info as to whether or not she could lower that cost by using her Medicare credits whenever she travels or was it just wasted money?

March 31, 2013 at 8:55 pm
(22) KP says:

Hi,

I am on H3 visa in the US for 2 years. Am I eligible to claim my SSN tax? If yes, how do I do that? Please help.

Thank you in advance,

KP

April 12, 2013 at 3:11 pm
(23) Vikram says:

Hello,

Thanks for the information. I just want to confirm the duration within which one can claim for the refund.

I have to claim for the social security taxes and medicare taxes refund which were incorrectly deducted from my wages during the years 2010 and 2011.

What will be last date for 2010′s tax refund claim?

Thanks in advance!

July 29, 2013 at 11:01 am
(24) Hardik Jani says:

Hey, Thank you for this blog. It is really helpful. I had a quick question. I have filed for a social security and medicare refund to IRS. But it has been more than 6 months and I have not received my refund. Although I got 3 letters from IRS that “due to heavy workload, we have not yet completed our research to resolve your inquiry”. And the letter always mentions that allow an additional 45 days for us to obtain the information. When I call the number given by them, its always busy. What should I do? How can I know, that they are checking on my application? Please help me. Thank you.

Regards,
Hardik Jani

August 8, 2013 at 10:06 am
(25) Auggy says:

Hardik Jani,

I am in the exact sane case! I have receive the 3 letters to “allow 45 days for more research”. This is very frustrating and I dont know what to do. Is there anyone here that had that issue? Someone know what we can do? Also, would the IRS pay interest on this refund?

Thanks
Auggy

August 19, 2013 at 1:13 pm
(26) Ritz says:

I believe that IRS doesn’t refund medicare and SSN taxes to international students who have been in the US after 5 years, right? This applies to those who are in F-1 visa too, right?

August 26, 2013 at 7:26 pm
(27) Anu says:

Hardik and Auggy,

I am in the same boat as you guys.
Difference being that i have not received any letter from IRS (mentioning delay) as you guys have.
Hopefully, i will have something worth sharing.
Please keep us posted if you guys hear something.

Thanks.

September 11, 2013 at 10:35 am
(28) Auggy says:

UPDATE:

Today I received ANOTHER letter from the IRS requesting 45 more days for extensive research. I will try to call them and actually speak to someone regarding this.

Ritz, yes, once you become a resident alien (after 5 calendar years) for tax purposes you are liable for social security and medicare tax.

November 10, 2013 at 12:54 pm
(29) Irit says:

Hi everybody,

I am happy I have found this forum, so I know what to expect as I haven’t heard back from my employer yet.

I have worked until an H-1b visa (which I have learned here I should expect not refunds for) and now under a J-1 visa. Although I have always filed as a non-resident they have kept all that money. I was also putting money in a voluntary fund (403B) and I am afraid of what they will take from me as a penalty for getting my money out! (didn’t have guts to face that reality yet!)

Anyhow, I have been in the US from 1996 with a student visa until now, 2013 with an F-1//H-1b//F-1. I have ALWAYS filed as a Non- Resident. I am just saying this because the poster above said that after 5 years you are supposed to file as a resident… but (luckily?) I was never told that! Just saying in case someone else is in the same predicament.

Great forum and thank you so much!

Irit

November 10, 2013 at 6:55 pm
(30) Addie L. McDuffie says:

Greetings,
Question: If a person was employed by contractor companies after their military retirement and did not have social security taxes withheld. Is there any way the person could backpay social security taxes to raise the social security monthly check? If so, what should the elderly person do? Please advise!

January 3, 2014 at 3:20 pm
(31) Rahil says:

@Auggy and others … Same boat guys !!! Recd 3 letters the last one dated 18th dec asking me to wait for another 45 days…please keep us posted if anyone hears back !!!
Thanks !!!

January 7, 2014 at 4:47 pm
(32) bal says:

any update guys after the 45 day wait?

January 8, 2014 at 9:09 am
(33) Rahil says:

Not any from my end still waiting for my 45 days to get over buddy !!! Anyone knows how to change the address where you’re refund for SS and medicare will go ?

January 8, 2014 at 4:43 pm
(34) William Perez says:

You can let the IRS know about a change of address using Form 8822.

January 13, 2014 at 3:39 am
(35) Rahil says:

Thank you :-) !!!
Any update guys ?!

January 19, 2014 at 5:32 pm
(36) saurabh says:

Is it possible to apply for this refund (SS tax & medicare tax) through efiling?

January 20, 2014 at 5:37 am
(37) Rahil says:

No I don’t think so !!!

January 21, 2014 at 12:25 pm
(38) Auggy says:

ALL,

I received my refund! Finally!!! I did call the IRS and was with them on the phone for about an hour or so until they told me they were going to try to expedite the process. My advice, call them NOW, before people start sending in the tax forms.

Good luck you all.

P.S. On the bright side, if bright, you get paid interest. :)

January 21, 2014 at 3:14 pm
(39) Rahil Maredia says:

Hey can u fill the form 8822 online ?! I am in India now and I need to change the address where my refund will be sent ?!
Thanks :-)
P.S: Congrats Auggy !!!

January 21, 2014 at 8:31 pm
(40) Alex says:

Hello everyone ,
Thanks to those that have helped. I need some clarification on the IRS rules for F-1 visa holders under OPT (A foreword, my status is non-resident alien (in the states for 3.5 years so far, on my 6th month of post-completion OPT).

The IRS says this: “If services performed by a nonresident alien student are not considered as performed to carry out the purpose for which the student was admitted to the United States, social security and Medicare taxes will be withheld from pay for the services unless the pay is exempt under the Internal Revenue Code”.

the question is: if I got approved for OPT and am working with my EAD outside from school doing exactly what I went to school for… Is my work considered as performed to carry out the purpose of my visa? I am working in a health field (dental specialty).

I would appreciate your words of wisdom. Thanks!

January 27, 2014 at 5:21 pm
(41) Anu says:

ALL,

Received the refund.
Apparently it does take time, 6-7 months but you do get it.

As , above post says – you do get interest on the amount :)

May have to call IRS to find out and stay on hold for hours – just in case and if needed.

Good luck!

Cheers.

January 28, 2014 at 2:02 am
(42) raji says:

Hi all,
pls help. im working under OPT . so do I apply tax as resident or non-resident. I hav been in US for 4 yrs now. DO i have to apply for tax refund as non-resident, in order to get my SSN tax and medicare tax back ?

February 4, 2014 at 11:06 am
(43) Rahil Maredia says:

Hello Guys,

So here I have some news for you’ll that might help.

I called the IRS on the 22nd of Jan 2014 and they said I see someone visited you’re account on the 10th of Jan and that is good news. December 18th I had received my 3rd letter asking me to wait for another 45 days and thus the lady asked me to call back on the 3rd of feb to see if the cheque had been sent.

I called them on the 3rd only to find out that since I had sent them my return in July it and the IRS was shut for 3 weeks in October they need another 45 days starting from the 4th of Feb and that the letter had been sent.

So if you’re return was sent around July we still have to wait !!! good luck and I hope we all receive our hard earned moolah soon !!!!

“HOPE IS A GOOD THING MY FRIEND”
- Shawshank Redemption
:-)

February 27, 2014 at 10:27 am
(44) hyun says:

How is it refunded? Did you get a check by a mail from them?

March 3, 2014 at 6:38 pm
(45) Eve says:

I have been to the States over 6 years, but I am still under F1 visa. I started working OPT last year, and I had been paying FICA ( social security and Medicare). I contacted to my employer about the Exemption of FICA for last year, they said they couldn’t do anything for me now because it is too late. My question will be am I entitle to file tax exempt of FICA tax ? If so, how do I file it?

April 7, 2014 at 2:51 pm
(46) John Snow says:

Does anyone know how long it takes for the IRS to refund FICA taxes?

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