Tax Refund Myth

Обложка Америка(2900x4640)Hello my dear friends!!! Today we will be talking about another Work and Travel myth from our book Half-American.

Taxes, taxes and taxes again – you think you gonna get them back??? Of course! – that is what WaT agents told me!

Myth № 4:
Tax refund – I will get all my money back. That is my money.

Maybe, a big maybe and only a little portion.

How many times you heard WaT agents saying “Oh, don’t worry, my dear, you can refund your taxes back after the trip. You are not US citizen. We will take care of you“??? You heard it too, right? Of course, you did, but that is just another Work and Travel myth and here is why…

Let’s get some details about tax refunding for WaT participants.

Since your are not US citizen, supposedly, you are allowed to get your taxes back. Sounds all good… but unfortunately only on paper. Wait, why? That is my hardly earned money, right? Actually not, it is not yours anymore. In practice, agencies that promise to refund your taxes charge a flat fee of $100-150 or even more. Now go to Myth #1 about Money and calculate how much taxes are taken away from your paycheck. Probably for the entire summer no more than $300. Then you have to fill out ton of paperwork and spend ton of time. If you are persistent and lucky, you may get your 50 bucks back. If you think someone will refund your taxes for free, well, that is another myth. Remember, in WAT, you have to pay a fee for everything.

Add also the fact that in 2018 US revised its tax regulations for WAT participants and  eliminated personal exemption. Starting 2018 all WAT students will have to pay 10% in federal income taxes (applicable for income <$9,525). This tax reform effectively eliminated refund of federal taxes for J-1 working students. Out of all taxes collected from student’s paycheck, federal taxes compile a very large portion (~90% of all taxes). Yes, state taxes vary a lot from state to state but they are usually much smaller than federal taxes that you cannot get back anymore. Therefore, nowadays, tax refund myth is a real myth as you don’t want to pay 100$ in fees to refund 90 bucks of state taxes. So, no, my friend, it is NOT your money, today uncle Sam (or Don) gets it…

You signed up for the program expecting you will refund you taxes which will help you to recover program expenses, right? We all did. You worked hard entire summer, got lower paycheck but thought you will get you taxes back in few months, right? We all did. After summer, you diligently arrived in the WaT office and you asked to refund your taxes the very same agent that promised to take care of you three months ago, right? We all did. And then we all heard that you have to pay a fee, that it takes time and patience, and this and that. Then they asked you a ton of paperwork and tried to impress you with knowledge of US tax regulations, right? We know, we know. In the middle of this lengthy and complicated process you just gave up and so did most of us. I know, it feels unfair, you thought you would get you taxes back… It is unfortunate, very unfortunate, but that is how Work and Travel works, my friend.

Anyway, since we have no power over US tax regulations, let’s just keep that Myth in mind before paying $3000 to WaT agents …

Thanks for reading, it was another Work and Travel myth this time about  “tax refund”…

The best of luck and patience in getting back your taxes!


Want to earn promised “average” $6000, improve English and enhance your resume? Good luck… but before you pay $3000 to Work and Travel agents check out these myths about the program:

as well as other useful Work and Travel tips in the book

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