Note: The information provided is not a substitute for professional/government tax counseling or for reading Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and California Tax Board (FTB) publications. Please consult with a qualified individual for more detailed information concerning applicable tax policies and regulations. The university is unable to provide specific tax advice to individuals. UCLA does not provide any official reporting for fellowship payments issued to US citizens, permanent residents, and residents for tax purposes. It is the responsibility of individuals to document funds received for the purposes of filing annual tax returns.

Fellowships are defined as payments to aid one’s pursuit of advanced training and research and are issued for the primary benefit of the individual receiving the payment. Because of their status as non-degree candidates, fellowship income received by a postdoctoral scholar appointed under title code 3253 is considered fully taxable by the federal and state tax boards.

In some cases, the UC departmental contributions paid to the UC Postdoctoral Scholars Benefit Plans (PSBP) on your behalf are considered taxable income (or imputed income) per US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulations. To explain this, the UC Office of the President issued a policy statement in a 2005 letter, titled “Taxability of Health Benefits Provided to Postdoctoral Employees, Fellows, and Paid Directs.

“Imputed income” is the term the IRS applies to the value of any benefit or service that should be considered income for the purpose of calculating federal taxes. However, the University’s withholding and reporting responsibilities regarding health benefits furnished to a fellowship recipient varies depending on whether the recipient is a U.S. citizen (including a resident alien) or a nonresident alien and are based on IRS regulations.

International Postdocs who invoke tax treaties will not be subject to imputed income for federal purposes, but the benefits will be reported on form 1042-S and taxed for California purposes and reported on form 592-B.

The UC contribution paid towards PSBP benefits will be taxed according to the following guidelines as required by the IRS:

  • Postdoc Employees (title code 3252), Non-Exempt Postdoc Employees (title code 3255), and Interim Postdoc Employees (title code 3256):
    • Benefits are not taxable unless the Postdoc Employee has a Domestic Partner (DP), if so just the UC contribution that pays for benefits for the Domestic Partner and/or dependents will be taxed.
      • If your Domestic Partner and/or dependents are tax dependents, benefits will not be taxed. If your Domestic Partnership is registered with the State of CA, you will not be taxed by the state of CA. Please note you must take a positive action to notify the University of your status to ensure appropriate taxation. Please review and complete the appropriate portions of the attached forms.
    • Please note that Postdoc Employees in TC 3252, 3255, or 3256 who do not have a Domestic Partner (and/or dependents of a Domestic Partner) are not subject to imputed income
  • Postdoc Fellows (title code 3253) and Paid Directs (title code 3254):
    • Postdoctoral fellowship income is considered non-qualified, tax reportable fellowship income and is expected to be reported to the IRS. In addition, the value of the employer paid benefits is considered fellowship income if the postdoc does not have at least 50% employee appointment (such as 3252 title, or a non-postdoc employee title).
    • Benefits are taxable on the Employer-paid portion of premiums for Postdoc and covered dependents.
      • “US Citizens” and other “Residents for US Tax Purposes” in 3253 or 3254:
        • Postdoctoral Fellows (3253) and Paid Directs (3254) are required to self-report the total annual value of their fellowships, including benefits for themselves and their dependents, when they prepare their U.S. and California income tax returns.
        • US resident fellowship recipient is expected to keep records of their fellowship income and include in their annual tax filing as appropriate.
      • Non-Resident Aliens (NRAs) in 3253 and 3254:
        • Subject to withholding 14% (F, M, Q, and J, Visa holders) and 30% for all others. Taxes will be withheld from stipends and reported on forms 1042-S and a 592-B.
        • Non-Resident Aliens who are Postdoc Paid Directs (3254) will be billed for the taxes and reported on forms 1042-S and 592-B, since their stipends ARE NOT paid by the University.
        • NRA’s postdoc fellowship income is reported on Form 1042-S.

All nonresident fellowship recipients must register with the Glacier Program to determine their federal tax status before any payment can be issued to them by the University.

Withholding: One’s residency status determines whether or not the University makes withholdings for federal taxes from this income. No withholdings are made for California State taxes.

The University cannot provide tax advice. We strongly encourage Postdoctoral Scholars to seek out a certified tax professional for assistance. For additional resources, please visit UCLA Corporate Finance Services website.

Resources

Internal Revenue Service: 1-800-TAX-FORM

The documents below are linked from the Internal Revenue Service site.

California Franchise Tax Board: 1-800-852-5711

The documents below are updated yearly, please select “current year forms” on the California Franchise Tax Board site to view the latest versions.

  • FTB Form 540-ES, Estimated Tax for Individuals
  • FTB Instructions 540-ES, Estimated Tax for Individuals