Tax Form W-8 BEN
(For Tax Year 2012)
Some students may be asked by their banks to complete a W-8 BEN form if they are eligible to have their interest income exempted from federal tax.
If you receive such a form from your bank or other financial institution, and are an F or J student in the United States for five years or less (since 2008 or later) or a J faculty or scholar in the United States for two years or less (2011 or later) it is essential that you complete the form and return it by the date requested.
The bank is required to have a withholding document on file in order to determine how/if to report interest income to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and whether or not tax should be withheld on the amount. If the bank's records indicate that the account holder is a non-immigrant, they may mail a W-8 BEN to certify his or her foreign status. Therefore, if you have a bank account, the banking industry needs to have the W-8 BEN on file in order to show the IRS that, YES, interest income was paid on your account, but NO, it's not taxable, IF you are eligible to be considered as a non-resident for tax purposes.
Most students, if sent the W-8 BEN, should just complete Part I, including foreign address, and sign the bottom at Part IV. The middle section will not apply to most individuals, since even if you are from a country that has a tax treaty with the United States, interest earnings are usually not part of the treaty benefits.
Also, if you have not yet reported your U.S. Social Security Number to your bank, if you have one, you should do so.