J1 students urged to claim their tax refunds

Students who have been to the US on J1 working holiday visas in the past four years have been urged to apply for a tax refund they are “almost certainly” owed.

Taxback.com has said that, for most students, the average refund is in the region of $800 (€740), which can help pay off loans that allowed them to travel to the US in the first place.

An estimated 10,000 students are expected to take part in the 2017 J1 visa programme. In 2015, 1,319 Irish people availed of the 12-month J1 visa, and around 7,000 took part in the four-month J1 Summer Work Travel Programme.

Recent reports suggest the scheme may be scrapped by US President Donald Trump.

In December, Ireland and the US signed an agreement extending the 12-month J1 visa for three years. Most Irish students avail of the four-month visa to travel to the US for the summer. However, Mr Trump has spoken of his desire to end the programme and he could scrap it using an executive order.

Eileen Devereux of Taxback.com said students who have taken part in the scheme in the past few years need to be aware of the possibility of a tax refund.

“We process thousands of J1 tax refunds for Irish students every year and the feedback we invariably receive is that this windfall, while often unexpected, is very much needed,” said Ms Devereux.

“Many students struggle with the financial burden of loans, rent, tuition fees; and a three-figure sum like this can often go a long way to easing some of this burden.

“That said, some students often find the purchase of flights to another country or insurance for a car an equally appealing use of the funds.”

She said the process of getting the refund is simple and can be wrapped up in weeks, but that students have four years to avail of the claim.

“It is believed that approximately 10,000 Irish people will take part in the 2017 programme. In 2016, approximately 300,000 foreign visitors from 200 countries and territoriestravelled to various destinations across the US to have their J1 experience.

“Anecdotal evidence suggests to us that a sizeable portion, probably about 20% of those students, have yet to reclaim their tax, which typically amounts to about $800 each. We are urging these students to take action before it’s too late — the right to claim becomes null and void after four years.”


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