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Student Exemption for Social Security and Medicare Taxes (FICA)

Directive Statement

Both graduate and undergraduate students are exempt from FICA taxes if they are enrolled in courses at least half-time and not working more than 32 hours per week.  Students that work more than 32 hours per week will be considered career employees for the student FICA exemption and will be subject to FICA taxes.

Reason for Directive

The University of Florida must comply with IRS Revenue Procedure 2005-11, which defines the requirements for the student FICA exemption.

Who must comply?

All UF departments.

Additional FICA Exemption Eligibility Information

Nonresident Aliens that are currently on F-1 and J-1 visas are exempt from FICA taxes under IRC section 3121(b) (19).  NRA students that fall out of status on their visas will be assessed FICA taxes retroactive to the beginning of the year.

J-2 and F-2 visa holders are subject to FICA taxes.

H1B1 visa holders are subject to FICA taxes.

Medical residents are also subject to FICA taxes.

Definitions

Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA)

Includes both Social Security and Medicare taxes levied on individuals

Nonresident Alien

A nonresident alien (NRA) is an individual who is not a U.S. citizen or a resident alien.  A resident of a foreign country under the residence article of an income tax treaty is a nonresident alien individual for purposes of withholding.

In general:

  • F and J student visa holders are considered non-residents during their first five full or partial calendar years in the U.S.
  • J professors and researchers are considered non-residents during their first two full or partial calendar years in the U.S.
  • H-1, TN and O-1 visa holders are considered non-residents until they meet the substantial presence test

Resident Alien

A resident alien is an individual that is not a U.S. citizen or national of the United States and who meets either the green card test or the IRS substantial presence test for the calendar year.

In general:

  • F and J student visa holders are considered residents after five full or partial calendar years in the U.S.
  • J researchers and professors are generally considered residents after two full or partial calendar years in the U.S.
  • H-1, TN, and O-1 visa holders are considered residents once they meet the substantial presence test

Last Reviewed

05/01/2020: reviewed content

Resources

IRS Revenue Procedures 2005-11

Toolkit

UF HR Toolkits – Foreign Nationals

Contacts

Payroll Services: (352) 392-1231

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