Is the research / TA stipend for PhD students at U.S. universities taxed as income?

  • This question (academia.stackexchange.com/questions/2914/…) is not specific to any country but has some US points in answers.
    – Dancrumb
    Mar 26, 2020 at 14:08
  • What you earn as a TA is probably considered as employment, not a scholarship. Since it requires specific duties for pay it is probably taxed as usual. There was talk a while ago of also taxing the tuition forgiveness normally given to graduate student TAs. I don't remember how that worked out, but think it didn't happen.
    – Buffy
    Mar 26, 2020 at 14:52

1 Answer 1


This is really a question you should pose to an accountant since there are a fair number of conditions here that affect whether you owe any taxes.

Stipends are, generally, not considered wages, in which case you wouldn't pay Social Security or Medicare taxes.

However, they are usually considered taxable income, so you would need to pay federal income tax.

Then there are state taxes to consider; with 50 states plus DC and other territories, that's too broad a question to sensibly answer here.

In some areas (such as NYC), there are local taxes to consider as well.

However, if your stipend qualifies as a scholarship because it is "...granted to meet the cost of education", then it may be tax-exempt.

This IRS Topic 421 is a good starting place, but US taxes are complicated and expensive if you get them wrong, so I strongly recommend getting professional input here.

ALSO US citizens have to file taxes every year, regardless of where they live. Whether they have to pay taxes depends on tax treaties and local tax laws.

This might also be true of your country of citizenship. Again, the only way to know for sure is to talk to an accountant.

  • 2
    TA/RA may be paid salary or a stipend depending on the institution. Either way, the student pays federal income tax, but any tax treat may affect the taxes for international students. There is also FICS (tax paid for the social security pension) which students on stipends and non-resident aliens don't have to pay, but US citizens/permanent residents on salary do have to pay. Mar 26, 2020 at 17:02
  • For foreigners, it also depends on your nationality and the relevant tax treaty. E.g., German citizens may not need to pay US tax.
    – Thomas
    Mar 26, 2020 at 19:07

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