How to Get Refund of FICA Taxes for OPT Students

By Raghuram Sukumar Personal Finance 16 Comments Edit

opt fica refund formFollow-up question from Swapnil based on the article Which is Better : Working in OPT or H1B Visa

I have a question regarding FICA taxes. As a OPT student, I am exempt from FICA taxes, but these taxes are still getting deducted from my salary. I know that I can file for refund of this money to IRS. But I was wondering if there is any way to stop these deductions from my salary itself. (So that I don’t worry about filing for a refund). I checked this with my employer. But company people were not sure. and I wanted to check with IRS but I could not due to shutdown. It will be great if you could throw some light on this.

OPT and FICA Taxes

  • As per IRS you don’t have to pay FICA Taxes (Social Security and Medicare)
  • Employer’s payroll processing team should be aware of this, if not no worries, you can educate them.
  • Worst Case : If they continue to deduct the FICA taxes, you can claim it back while filing your taxes in April.

IRS : FICA Taxes and OPT Students

Following is taken from IRS Website

Nonresident aliens, in general, are also liable for Social Security/Medicare Taxes on wages paid to them for services performed by them in the United States, with certain exceptions based on their nonimmigrant status. The following classes of nonimmigrants and nonresident aliens are exempt from U.S. Social Security and Medicare taxes:

F-visas, J-visas, M-visas, Q-visas. Nonresident Alien students, scholars, professors, teachers, trainees, researchers, physicians, au pairs, summer camp workers, and other aliens temporarily present in the United States in F-1,J-1,M-1, or Q-1/Q-2 nonimmigrant status are exempt on wages paid to them for services performed within the United States as long as such services are allowed by USCIS for these nonimmigrant statuses, and such services are performed to carry out the purposes for which such visas were issued to them.

  • Exempt Employment includes:
    • On-campus student employment up to 20 hours a week (40 hrs during summer vacations).
    • Off-campus student employment allowed by USCIS.
    • Practical Training student employment on or off campus.
    • Employment as professor, teacher or researcher.
    • Employment as a physician, au pair, or summer camp worker.

You can ask your employer to read the IRS site about FICA Taxes. If they continue deduct taxes, then you can request refund of FICA Taxes withheld from you pay check back from IRS.

Following is the procedure to get FICA Taxes Refund ( from IRS Site)

OPT FICA Refund

If social security or Medicare taxes were withheld in error from pay that is not subject to these taxes, contact the employer who withheld the taxes for a refund.

If you are unable to get a full refund of the amount from your employer, file a claim for refund with the Internal Revenue Service on Form 843, Claim for Refund and Request for Abatement (PDF). Attach the following items to Form 843:

  • A copy of your Form W-2 to prove the amount of social security and Medicare taxes withheld,
  • A copy of the page from your passport showing the visa stamp,
  • INS Form I-94,
  • If applicable INS Form I-538, Certification by Designated School Official, and
  • A statement from your employer indicating the amount of the reimbursement your employer provided and the amount of the credit or refund your employer claimed or that you authorized your employer to claim. If you cannot obtain this statement from your employer, you must provide this information on your own statement and explain why you are not attaching a statement from your employer.
  • If applicable, Form 8316,Information Regarding Request for Refund of Social Security Tax Erroneously Withheld on Wages Received by a Nonresident Alien on an F, J, or M Type Visa (PDF)

File Form 843 (with attachments) with the IRS office where your employer’s Forms 941 returns were filed.

You can locate the IRS office where your employer files his Form 941 by going to Where to File Tax Returns.

Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any questions.

Comments

  1. Manpreet

    Is it possible to get FICA refund for the year 2013 at this point?

    1. Author
      Raghuram Sukumar

      Yes, you should be able to get it now as well. File the right form or get help from CPA.

  2. Rakesh

    Hi,

    I have a question about filing W-4 form.

    I am on H1B ( I-140 – approved) and my wife is on OPT EAD status .
    She got a job and her employer is asking to send the filled W-4 .

    Questions:

    Which option do we both choose “filing single” or “Married filing jointly” .
    Can I claim my wife as dependent while she is working on OPT EAD status.

    I am looking for what to fill in “W4 – Personal Allowances Worksheet ( A, B, C, D, E” for each of us.

    Thanks,

    1. Author
      Raghuram Sukumar

      You can claim your wife as dependent unless someone else is not claiming.

      Mostly you should be doing married filing jointly.

  3. Ravish

    Hey! Thanks for the helpful article. I was wondering if it was possible to file this from abroad (as the forms do not have a “country” section to fill out). I got done with my OPT and left the USA last year. But I am eligible to get some money back from my 2013 tax deductions (and have all the necessary documents ready). Or should I just use a friends mailing address?

    1. Author
      Raghuram Sukumar

      I don’t know the answer. If you find an answer can you come back to post it here?

  4. Prabhat Sinha

    Hi,

    I am in the United States since last two years on F1 Visa, currently I am on my OPT. The employer who I work for pays me $ 10 per hours and charges $66 federal tax on the amount of $ 555 for per two weeks.

    Can i get exemption from Federal tax withholding

  5. John Smith

    Worked in the US on a J-1 visa during the summer of 2014 in New York city, was unaware i did not have to pay FICA. Do i follow the suggested steps to get a full refund and am i entitled to one?

  6. YDY

    I have been in the US for more than 5 years on F1 visa and therefore I am counted as resident alien for tax purposes but I am on OPT now, my employer is withholding FICA and medicare. Can I ask them not to withhold in this case or am I eligible for a refund?thanks!

  7. Vinod

    Hello,

    Is a person with OPT status (valid EAD card) but expired F-1 visa still eligible for this FICA refund?

    Appreciate your response.

    Thanks!

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