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How to file back taxes on F, J, M, Q visas



People do not file their taxes for a variety of reasons. Perhaps you forgot or were unaware that you had to file. Perhaps you had a hefty tax bill that you could not cover.

Whatever the reason, if you did not file your tax return by the deadline, you should do it as soon as possible. Otherwise, you risk being hit by fines, and you can jeopardize your future visa applications.

As a nonresident, you probably know that you have the obligation to file a tax return if you were in the US for just one day, and even if you did not earn any income in order to stay compliant with your visa tax commitment.

This guide will outline everything you need to know as a nonresident if you did not file your prior-year tax return(s). So, keep reading!

What do I need to know about filing prior years’ tax returns?

If you did not file when you were obliged to do so, you may be pursued by the IRS.

If you have unfiled returns for the previous tax years, the IRS can levy costly penalties and withhold your tax refund.

In some cases, they can even file a return on your behalf, but without any deductions, tax treaties, and credits in your favor that you might be entitled to. This will result in you paying much more in tax than you need to!

If you are expecting money back, there is no penalty for not filing, but you will have only three years from the deadline in April to submit your tax return.

You could lose your refund if you don’t do it on time. Our advice – don’t leave your money in the US. Claim it back today!

How Do I File Back Tax Returns

What happens if you don’t file taxes? What can happen if I file a tax return very late?

As a nonresident, it’s crucial to know that failing to file your tax return may significantly jeopardize your future prospects of securing a US visa or a Green card.

The consequences vary depending on whether the IRS owes you money or you owe the IRS. In any case, you lose.

If you owe money to the American tax authorities, they can tack on penalties and fines which accumulate over time.

What are the late filing fines and penalties?

The penalty for failing to file a federal tax return by the due date, or extended due date, is usually 5% of the unpaid tax for each month, or part of a month that the return is late, with a maximum penalty of 25% of the unpaid tax.

However, a minimum penalty is imposed if the return is more than 60 days late. If no return is filed after 60 days, a minimum penalty of $435 or 100% of the unpaid tax, whichever is less, can be imposed.

In addition, you may also owe a late payment penalty on the amount of tax due, if any.

The late filing penalty differs from the late payment penalty – read more here.


How many years can I file back taxes?

Broadly speaking, the IRS does not impose constraints on the amount of time you have to file past-due returns. You are able to do it at any time and they won’t reject your return (even if it’s a decade old). Of course, the IRS wants your returns as soon as possible.

However, If you haven’t filed your return on time, the IRS can come to you at any moment.

As mentioned above, if you want to claim a tax refund for the past year, you have only three years to do it.

If you want to be in the tax authorities’ “good books”, you must have filed tax returns for the last six years.


How do I file old tax returns with Sprintax? Can I still file taxes for 2019, 2018, 2017, and other years?

If you want to file a previous year’s tax return, you should know that you can use Sprintax to file for the last 3 years. However, if you need to file prior years’ tax returns, we have another option for you.

File prior year tax return with Sprintax

When you choose “Prior tax years”, you will be transferred to Sprintax’s sister company who has more than 20 years of experience in tax return services. The process with them is very simple and straightforward. You just need to follow the steps.

Sprintax previous years tax returns

What’s the difference?

With Sprintax, you can use a software service to prepare your old tax returns online, while with, an experienced tax agent will help you complete and file your prior-year tax returns at affordable pricing.


Here is how to file back taxes with Sprintax in a few easy steps:

1. Gather your paperwork

То file your old tax returns, you will need the W-2, 1099, and 1042-S forms you received for those years in order to report your income. If you want to claim any credits or deductions that you might be entitled to, you will have to gather old receipts to prove your eligibility.

2. Make a request for documentation that is missing

If you are unable to find any of your tax documentation from the past 10 years, you can either get in touch with your employer or request a copy from the IRS by filing Form 4506-T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return. This process can take up to 45 days.

3. Prepare your back tax returns.

Back tax returns must always be filed on the original forms for each tax year.

4. Submit your forms

You will have to submit the filled forms at the address that you can find on the instructions for Form 1040NR.

Got questions? Do not hesitate to contact us! Our tax experts are ready to answer all your questions 24/7.


How to e-file prior-year tax returns?

You can e-file your 1040NR tax return with Sprintax from 2020 onwards.


How to amend your prior-year tax return with Sprintax?

If it turns out that you made an error on your nonresident alien tax return, you can easily fix it! Simply, follow the steps in the article above.

A tax return can be considered “incorrect” for many reasons.  And while making a mistake is not such a big deal, it’s crucial to file an amended tax return, where appropriate.


When to file an amended tax return?

  • you filed by mistake with the incorrect tax filing status
  • you learned you forgot to claim a credit or a tax deduction you are entitled to
  • you must either remove or add a dependent
  • you neglected to include taxable income on your tax return.
  • you found out that you claimed a cost, deduction, or credit for which you were not entitled.

Just bear in mind that the IRS restricts the period of time you have to file an amended return in order to get a refund to:

  • Within three years following the initial filing deadline, or
  • within two years after paying the tax owed for that year, whichever comes first.

If you’re outside of that time frame, you won’t be able to get a refund by changing your return.


Can I check the status of an amended tax return?

Yes, you can use the IRS tool “Where is my amended return?

You will need your:

  • social security number
  • tax year concerned
  • date of birth
  • Zip Code


How to check the status of a prior-year tax return (how to get a copy of the tax return) after mailing the return to the IRS?

There are different situations when you might be required to get a copy of your previous year’s tax return.

If this is the case with you, before going to the IRS website or getting in touch with their representative, make sure you have the following info:

  • Social Security Number
  • Date of birth
  • Address currently on file with the IRS
  • Zip Code currently on file with the IRS
  • Type of transcript needed
  • tax year concerned
  • exact refund amount expected
  • filing status

You need to check your tax return status using the “Where is my refund” tool, and only if you can’t find any information, you can contact the IRS directly and speak to a representative.

Where is My Refund

Why choose Sprintax for my previous year’s tax filing?

  • Sprintax is a tax preparation software developed specifically for nonresidents
  • We offer an easy online service and you will save time and stress!
  • Sprintax will prepare a fully compliant US tax return
  • You will receive your maximum legal tax refund
  • Sprintax can determine your residency status for free
  • 24/7 Live Chat facility with our tax experts


Prepare or amend your previous year’s tax returns with Sprintax.

File my prior-year tax return


Don’t hesitate to contact the Sprintax team if you need help.



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Financial News

Why did file sharing drive so much startup innovation?



One of the great things about editing all of our deep-dive EC-1 startup profiles is that you start to notice patterns across successful companies. While origin stories and trajectories can vary widely, the best companies seem to come from similar places and are conceived around very peculiar themes.

To wit, one common theme that came from our recent profiles of Expensify and NS1 is the centrality of file sharing (or, illegal file sharing if you are on that side of the fence) and internet infrastructure in the origin stories of the two companies. That’s peculiar, because the duo honestly couldn’t be more different. Expensify is an SF-founded (now Portland-based), decentralized startup focused on building expense reporting and analytics software for companies and CFOs. New York-based NS1 designs highly-redundant DNS and internet traffic performance tools for web applications.

Yet, take a look at how the two companies were founded. Anna Heim on the origins of Expensify:

To truly understand Expensify, you first need to take a close look at a unique, short-lived, P2P file-sharing company called Red Swoosh, which was Travis Kalanick’s startup before he founded Uber. Framed by Kalanick as his “revenge business” after his previous P2P startup Scour was sued into oblivion for copyright infringement, Red Swoosh would be the precursor for Expensify’s future culture and ethos. In fact, many of Expensify’s initial team actually met at Red Swoosh, which was eventually acquired by Akamai Technologies in 2007 for $18.7 million.

[Expensify founder and CEO David] Barrett, a self-proclaimed alpha geek and lifelong software engineer, was actually Red Swoosh’s last engineering manager, hired after the failure of his first project,, a P2P push-to-talk program that couldn’t compete against Skype. “While I was licking my wounds from that experience, I was approached by Travis Kalanick who was running a startup called Red Swoosh,” he recalled in an interview.

Then you head over to Sean Michael Kerner’s story on how NS1 came together:

NS1’s story begins back at the turn of the millennium, when [NS1 co-founder and CEO Kris] Beevers was an undergrad at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in upstate New York and found himself employed at a small file-sharing startup called Aimster with some friends from RPI. Aimster was his first taste of life at an internet startup in the heady days of the dot-com boom and bust, and also where he met an enterprising young engineer by the name of Raj Dutt, who would become a key relationship over the next two decades.

By 2007, Beevers had completed his Ph.D. in robotic mapping at RPI and tried his hand at co-founding and running an engineered-wood-product company named SolidJoint Research, Inc. for 10 months. But he soon boomeranged back to the internet world, joining some of his former co-workers from Aimster at a company called Voxel that had been founded by Dutt.

The startup provided a cornucopia of services including basic web hosting, server co-location, content delivery and DNS services. “Voxel was one of those companies where you learn a lot because you’re doing way more than you rightfully should,” Beevers said. “It was a business sort of built out of love for the tech, and love for solving problems.”

The New York City-based company peaked at some 60 employees before it was acquired in December 2011 by Internap Network Services for $35 million.

Note some of the similarities here. First, these wildly different founders ended up both working on key internet plumbing. Which makes sense of course, since back two decades ago, building out the networking and compute capacity of the internet was one of the major engineering challenges of that period in the web’s history.

Additionally in both cases, the founding teams met at little-known companies defined by their engineering cultures and which sold to larger internet infrastructure conglomerates for relatively small amounts of money. And those acquirers ended up being laboratories for all kinds of innovation, even as few people really remember Akamai or Internap these days (both companies are still around today mind you).

The cohort of founders is fascinating. Obviously, you have Travis Kalanick, who would later go on to found Uber. But the Voxel network that went to Internap is hardly a slouch:

Dutt would leave Internap to start Grafana, an open-source data visualization vendor that has raised over $75 million to date. Voxel COO Zachary Smith went on to found bare metal cloud provider, Packet, in 2013, which he ran as CEO until the company was acquired by Equinix in March 2020 for $335 million. Meanwhile, Justin Biegel, who spent time at Voxel in operations, has raised nearly $62 million for his startup Kentik. And of course, NS1 was birthed from the same alumni network.

What’s interesting to me with these two companies (and some others in our set of stories) is how often founders worked on other problems before starting the companies that would make them famous. They learned the trade, built networks of hyper-intelligent present and future colleagues, understood business development and growth, and started to create a flywheel of innovation amidst their friends. They also got a taste of an exit without really getting the whole meal, if you will.

In particular with file sharing, what’s interesting is the rebellious and democratic ethos that came with that world back at the turn of the millennium. To work in file sharing in that era meant fighting the big music labels, overturning the economics of entire industries, and breaking down barriers to allow the internet economy to flourish. It attracted a weird bunch of folks — the exact kind of weirdness that happens to make good startup founders, apparently. It echos one of the key arguments of Fred Turner’s book, “From Counterculture to Cyberculture.”

Which begs the question then: what are the “file sharing” markets today that these sorts of individuals congregate around? One that seems obvious to me is blockchain, which has precisely that balance of rebelliousness, democratization, and technical excellence (well, at least some of the time!) And then there are the modern-day “pirates” today such as Alexandra Elbakyan who invented and has operated Sci-Hub to make the world’s research and knowledge democratized.

It’s maybe not the current batch of companies that we see which will become the next extraordinary unicorns. But watch the people who show up in the interesting places — because their next projects often seem to hit gold.

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Zomato raises $562 million from anchor investors ahead of IPO



Indian food delivery startup Zomato said on Tuesday evening that it has raised $562.3 million from its anchor investors ahead of IPO opening on Wednesday.

Zomato, which counts Ant Financial  has already secured nearly 45% of the $1.3 billion it plans to raise through the IPO, the 12-year-old Gurgaon-headquartered startup revealed in a filing to local stock exchanges. The public share sale will open on Wednesday and close Friday.

Tiger Global, Fidelity, New World, Baillie Gifford, Government of Singapore, Canada Pension Plan, Mirae Asset, T. Rowe Price, and Steadview are among the investors that are backing the startup in the public markets.

The investors have subscribed the shares at Rs 76 ($1) — the upper end of the price range for Zomato’ shares — giving the Indian startup an implied valuation of $8.6 billion, up from $5.4 billion in February this year.

The oversubscription illustrates the confidence high-profile investors are placing in the world’s second largest internet market’s first real consumer internet offering.

In a virtual press conference last week, Zomato executives said the startup, which has search and discovery in nearly two dozen markets, will focus largely on India and will explore categories such as online grocery delivery in the future.

The executives also dismissed Amazon as a serious competitor for now. “There’s no major impact on market share from Amazon so far,” the company’s chief financial officer said. Amazon entered the food delivery market last year and is operational in just Bangalore for now. Swiggy, backed by SoftBank Vision Fund 2 and Prosus Ventures, is Zomato’s chief rival in India.

For the financial year that ended in March this year, its revenue was down 23% to $283 million, and it also shrank its losses to $110 million, down 66% from the same period a year ago.

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Where is suptech heading?



Technology plays a huge role in nearly every aspect of financial services today. As the world moved online, tools and infrastructure to help people manage their money and make payments have burgeoned the world over in the past decade.

With much of the finance world now leveraging technology to conduct business, predict trends and deliver services, financial services regulators are also developing new technologies to monitor markets, supervise financial institutions and conduct other administrative activities. The emergence of purpose-built technologies to facilitate regulator oversight has, over the past few years, garnered its own moniker of supervisory technology, or suptech.

Interest in suptech is proliferating across the globe thanks to a diverse set of prudential and conduct regulators. A sampling of regulators developing suptech include the FDIC, CFPB, FINRA and Federal Reserve in the U.S.; the U.K.’s FCA and Bank of England; the National Bank of Rwanda in Africa; as well as the ASIC, HKMA and MAS in Asia. Several “super regulators” are also engaged in suptech efforts such as the Bank of International Settlements, the Financial Stability Board and the World Bank.

The strides in suptech demonstrate that creative thinking coupled with experimentation and scalable, easily accessible technologies are jump-starting a new approach to regulation.

In this post, we’ll examine a few core suptech use cases, consider its future and explore the challenges facing regulators as the market matures. The uses are diverse, so we’ll focus on three key areas: regulatory reporting, machine-readable regulation, and market and conduct oversight.

A quick general note: Nearly every financial services regulator is engaged in some type of suptech activity and the use cases discussed in this article are intended as a sample, not a comprehensive list.

But what exactly is suptech?

As a preliminary matter, we should quickly survey a few definitions of suptech to frame our understanding. Both the World Bank and BIS have offered definitions that provide useful outlines for this discussion. The World Bank states that suptech “refers to the use of technology to facilitate and enhance supervisory processes from the perspective of supervisory authorities.” It’s a little circular, but helpful.

The BIS defines suptech as “the use of technology for regulatory, supervisory and oversight purposes.” This is a similarly loose definition that describes the broader scope better.

Regardless of differences on the margins, the “sup” in these suptech definitions acknowledges the primacy of the idea that regulators’ objectives are to oversee the conduct, structure, and health of the financial system. Suptech technologies facilitate related regulatory supervision and enforcement processes.

Regulatory reporting

Regulatory reporting refers to a broad swath of activities such as financial firms providing trading data to regulatory authorities and regulators’ analysis of financial data or corporate information to determine the projected health or potential risks facing an institution or the market.

The MAS and FDIC are incorporating transactional and financial data reported by firms as a means to assess their financial viability. The MAS, in conjunction with BIS, has run tech sprints soliciting new ideas relating to regulatory reporting, while the FDIC has “a regulatory reporting solution that would allow ‘on-demand’ monitoring of banks as opposed to being constrained by ‘point-in-time’ reporting. This project is particularly targeted at smaller, community banks that provide only aggregated data on their financial health on a quarterly basis.”

The HKMA recently outlined its three-year plan for the development of suptech, which includes developing an approach to “network analysis.” The HKMA will analyze reporting data related to corporate shareholding and financial exposure to bring them “to life as network diagrams, so that the relationships between different entities become more apparent. Greater transparency of the connections and dependencies between banks and their customers will enable HKMA supervisors to detect early warning signals within the entire credit network.”

These reporting initiatives touch on a theme regulators have continuously struggled with: How to regulate markets and firms based on a reactive approach to historical data. Regulation and enforcement are often retrospective activities — examining past behavior and data to decide how to sanction an organization or develop a regulatory framework to govern a particular type of activity or financial product. This can result in an approach to regulation too rooted in past failures, which might lack the flexibility to anticipate or adapt to emerging risks or financial products.

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