Graduate funding is considered taxable income. Taxes are your responsibility. Do not put off thinking about them until early April, or you might incur fines and other legal penalties.
If you are receiving an assistantship from the University or one that is administered by the University, state and federal income taxes should be withheld. Check your August pay stub or deposit advice to see that and the withholding amounts are “in the ballpark.” If you are receiving a fellowship from the University, no taxes should be withheld and you will have to file quarterly Estimated Tax Returns with the IRS and the State of Missouri. Forms and instructions for estimated tax returns may be obtained from the Internal Revenue Service. If you have questions about Federal Income Tax Information call 1-800-829-1040. Visit their web site for forms and to see if you are eligible to file online.
Another resource is the Key Tax Issues for Fellowship Stipend Recipients Information page which is found in the Tax Policies and Procedures Section of the Washington University Website.
Commonly Asked Tax Questions
If the University is not withholding from my check, is there anything I can do to change this?
No. The University’s policy is to withhold on graduate assistantships, for which students provide services to others part of the time while spending most of their time on their own work, and not to withhold on fellowships, which require only that students progress full-time in their work. This distinction reflects federal law and therefore cannot be changed by Washington University.
What about tuition scholarships for tax purposes?
Do not report them on your tax forms. Every tuition scholarship in the Graduate School meets the current IRS criteria for tax exemption.
What about Social Security and Medicare?
As a full-time student, you are exempt from Social Security and Medicare taxes (FICA). This exemption is dependent on your full-time student status and may not apply in the summer. If you are not taking classes in the summer but you are working at an on-campus job, you will have FICA taxes withheld.
What if my estimated payments were too low and I cannot afford to pay the tax amounts due on April 15th?
You are responsible for paying your taxes and should consult the IRS about payment options and more accurate estimation in the future. While some may be able to obtain a short-term loan from the Graduate School, be aware that Graduate School loan funds are extremely limited: first come, first served.
I am an international student. How do the rules apply to me?
Every case is different. Go to the Office of International Students and Scholars for advice.