APEX Foundation
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Your last paycheck and your Tax Return

Saturday, August 28, 2010 by

Image of 1040NR-EZ Tax Return form

Tax Return form

Every year, some students have troubles getting their last paycheck and documents for their Tax Return. Some get them as much as a year later, some never. Why, and how to make sure you’re not one of them?

The basic reason is dead simple: your employer doesn’t have your address in your home country!

Among experienced worktravelers it’s generally considered a monumentally dumb idea to leave your job on any other day than payday. Are you really sure that the guy for whom you worked somewhere halfway away around the world will actually mail you your last paycheck to your home country? Do you really want to take chances?

But even if your employer is a nice and honest person to make an effort and mail you your last paycheck, he can’t do it if he doesn’t have your home address! Leaving him your address is a start, but it’s no ideal. People often don’t know how to write foreign addresses and if your paycheck gets lost in mail, you are out of luck. And probably out of a few hundred dollars too.

So the best thing to do is to leave your employer an envelope, on which you carefully wrote your home address yourself. And while you are at it, leave your employer two addressed envelopes! Why? Because after the end of the calendar year, he will also need to send you your Tax Return documents! Again, if you don’t receive them, things get more difficult than if you do.

Another type of problem is if your employer uses an accounting firm to handle his payroll, or if it’s a big corporation which has an accounting department in a completely different city or state than where you worked. If they were sending you your paychecks to your US address during the summer, they will naturally send you the last one there too! But since you no longer stay there, the envelope will come back as undeliverable, and that’s the end of it.

So what’s the task list?

  1. Carefully prepare two self-addressed envelopes.
  2. Ask your employer who will be sending you your last paycheck and your W2 form.
  3. Make sure you deliver those envelopes to the person who will be sending you the stuff.
  4. GET A WINTER CONTACT, such as email and phone, for your employer or the accounting department!

Not having done the last point causes pain every year. Either your last paycheck or your tax documents don’t arrive, and you have no way to contact your employer, because many of them live elsewhere in winter than in summer.

P.S. If you received any sort of medical treatment during your stay, call the doctor/clinic and your insurance company and make sure that all your bills have been paid. If you don’t know what to do, contact your program sponsor. Keep in mind that in the USA it is your business to make sure that your medical bills have been settled. There have been cases of students who incurred horrible amounts of penalties for unpaid bills, before an international debt collecting agency finally chased them down in their home country two years later.

Questions? Ask below :-) In English, please.

APEX Foundation