Tax season 101: First-timer’s guide to 2012 taxes

It’s about that time — time to file2012 taxes your 2012 taxes, that is! If you’re a first time taxpayer, don’t fret; there are many resources out there to help with tax filing for students. So, grab a notebook and get yourself organized; in no time at all you should be able to cash that first refund check!

First time ‘round these parts?

Tax filing can be very confusing, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. First things, first: get yourself organized. Taking a cue from TurboTax’s updated article, “Tax Tips After January 1, 2013,” there are a few things you’ll want to do before you get started:

  • Print out a tax preparation checklist.
  • You should have been receiving a steady flow of paperwork in your mailbox (either electronically or to your home or school address) — save all of these documents “even if they don’t look very important.”
  • Gather all receipts you’ve saved during the recent tax year. This is an important one for students to take note of (we’ll discuss more later).

Get help from the pros

After you’ve gotten your documents gathered, you’ll probably want to seek out some professional legal advice (as flattered as we are that you’re reading our tips, we cannot give legal advice). Asking friends and family members for recommendations is a great way to save a little bit of cash while filing. If you’d rather go at it alone, consulting with TurboTax or another at-home filing system may be a good idea.

Don’t forget about those deductions!

As mentioned above, there are ways to deduct your school and business expenses, but you’ll want to have proof of receipt to show your tax advisor. You may or may not qualify for any of the deductions listed below, but they’re all worth looking into.

  • Lifetime Learning Credit
  • American Opportunity Credit
  • Hope Credit
  • Tuition and Fees Deduction
  • Student Loan Interest Deduction
  • Deductions on medical and dental care expenses
  • Child and Dependent Care Credit

For information directly from the source, check out the “Tax Benefits for Education: Information Center” on the IRS website.

Forms and receipts and deductions… (oh my!)

Yes, we are well aware that all of this may be making you want to pull your hair out. Before you get stressed out, take a minute to realize that you’ve taken the first step in filing your taxes for the first time—one of the few certainties in life!

2 replies
  1. BRANIAC123 says:

    Don’t forget if you are claiming any of the following deductions the IRS will not begin to process your return until mid February:
    Lifetime Learning Credit
    American Opportunity Credit
    Hope Credit
    Tuition and Fees Deduction
    Student Loan Interest Deduction

  2. Hannah says:

    H&R Block online is what I’ve been using for the past several years. It’s easy to use and has lot of explanations. In addition, if you do get audited, they help you with that too. They have free filing for Federal taxes if you use the Basic service. There is a charge for filing state taxes through their system, but most states have online filing on their own websites for free, and you can fill out the form on H&R Block’s site first, so you know what to enter.

    Happy taxing! And don’t forget to deduct expenses for your books. 🙂


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