Two things in life are certain—taxes is one of them.

If you plan to work and earn income, then you should plan to pay taxes. Navigating the federal tax code will be an important part of your financial education as you learn about the concept of taxes, IRS regulations, and tax breaks and credits for which you might be eligible. While we may provide a general overview of the tax code, you should visit the IRS website or consult a tax professional if you have specific questions about your personal taxes.

How do I pay taxes?

Typically, you do not pay taxes once a year at tax time—you pay taxes all year via deductions from your paycheck. The amount deducted depends on the number of withholding allowances you claim. As a general rule: more allowances = less tax deducted, and fewer allowances = more tax deducted.

At tax time, your tax liability is calculated based on your income and any adjustments to that income. If you have not paid your tax liability over the year, you still owe tax; if you have overpaid, you will receive a refund.

Do I need to file a tax return?

If you earned income in excess of the limit set by the IRS, then you will have to file taxes for that year.  The Internal Revenue Service offers an interactive tool which can help determine if you are required to file. 

Even if you aren't required to file a return, you may want to file. If too much tax was taken out of your income, for example, you would be eligible for a tax refund that you otherwise would not receive by not filing.

How do I file a tax return?

Most students who are US citizens or permanent residents should be able to file a tax return for free, using IRS free software resources.   

If you are an international student, contact the Davis International Center.

Taxable Scholarship

In some cases your scholarship may be considered "taxable income" by the federal government—that is, if you file a tax return, you may have to report a portion of your scholarship as income you earned in that year. Typically, scholarship funding that goes toward "qualified costs" such as tuition, fees, books, and supplies is nontaxable; scholarship funding that goes toward "non-qualified expenses" such as room, board, and other non-course-related expenses may be taxable.

Most U.S. citizens and permanent residents will receive a Form 1098-T from the University mailed to your home address. This form states both the amount of tuition billed to you and the amount of scholarship aid you received in the calendar year.

If your scholarship aid is less than tuition, then there is no taxable scholarship. If your scholarship aid is greater than tuition, then the excess amount may be considered taxable income. If you track your textbook purchases during the calendar year, you may be able to subtract these expenses from the excess amount before reporting as income.

If you have specific questions about determining taxable scholarship, contact the University Tax Department at

Tax documents provided by the University

Depending on whether you worked for the University, received financial aid, or were funded for other programs, the University may provide any of the tax documents below:


Information Contained

Delivery Method

Office to Contact with Questions


Wage Earnings


Payroll (


Qualified Tuition, Payments, and Scholarship

Postal Mail

Student Accounts Office (


Prize Payments over $600

Postal Mail

Financial Service Center (

Email to Student

Non-Qualified Payments through SAFE


Financial Service Center (