When it comes to filing your taxes, the whole process seems extremely, * cough * taxing if you don’t have the first clue about how to file taxes. However, with a couple of budges in the right direction, anyone can take up filing their taxes — and still, have the option of hiring professional help in their back pocket.
Tax season dawns upon the American population in the middle of April each year. This sends a good clueless fraction of the population into quite the flux.
Add to that the number of college students that pick up extra jobs increasing each year. We, therefore, witness an increase in the number of people who would qualify as first-time taxpayers each season.
Here’s a compilation of the most asked questions by college students who are considering filing their taxes for the first time. Read on to find out more.
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Do I have to file taxes as a college student?
Determining if you should be filing taxes in a year is something that depends on how much income you made in that year. If your earned income (wages and tips) last year, was less than $6,300 and your unearned income (interest and dividends) was less than $1,050, filing a tax return isn’t required.
Even if you made less than the minimum income required, you still might want to file taxes. Say you were working during any part of the year. And your employer took taxes out of your paycheck. Turns out, you might be able to get a fraction of that amount back as a refund for your effort.
What is a college student’s tax status?
Be sure to talk to your parents before you decide to file taxes. While living away from home and having the choice of making your decisions may feel like adulthood, you may still be considered a dependant when it comes to taxes. (Anyone under the age of 24 pursuing an education in the United States can be claimed as a dependant)
The IRS states that if you’re a student, your parents can claim you as a dependant until you’re 24. Thus, it’s wise to consult your parents about your status of dependency. This is because it may affect how you prepare for your return.
How difficult is completing a tax form?
The difficulty of a tax form differs with every individual’s situation. After you’ve received all your tax documents, you’ll be able to determine the tax forms required in your situation to file your taxes with the IRS.
However, if your tax situation is relatively simple, you might be eligible for the 1040EZ. The 1040EZ can be considered the simplest tax form available — it’s a single page document available online as a form or in paper.
Once you’ve filled in the preliminary details such as your name, Social Security Number, and address — consider yourself halfway done!
If your tax situation is a little complicated and you can’t use the 1040-EZ, then there’s the regular 1040 form. This form is relatively longer and more complicated than the 1040-EZ, but it isn’t more difficult.
For more clarification on what form fits your tax situation and what documents you will be needed for the process, visit the IRS website.
How does a college student file taxes?
There are two ways of going about filing taxes during tax season. You either do it yourself or pay someone to do it. If you’ve made less than $66,000 during the previous tax year and want to do your taxes yourself, you could use FreeFile, the IRS’ online basic tax filing software.
The IRS also has an easy to use app that can be used to file taxes called IRS2Go. It’s available on the Apple App Store and the Google Appstore.
However, if you don’t feel confident enough about the process, or you’re on a time crunch or feel like you don’t know enough on the subject yet, you don’t have to file taxes on your own.
You can get help from a tax professional online, as well as in person. Your tax document needs and income level determines if and how much you have to pay to get your taxes done professionally.
Where can college students find help with filing taxes?
Your search for professional help should ideally start in the town/city that you are in. Your campus itself might come in handy.
There are also students that are majoring in business who assist with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.
VITA offers free tax help to those who generally make $54,000 or less, persons with disabilities, and limited English-speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their tax returns.
These IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals. If you do not have a network of VITA volunteers, the IRS can also assist you in finding a location near you that does — such as your local library or a community center.
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