Ah taxes … part of entering the world of adults is beginning that lifelong dance with filing taxes. If you had a job in high school, mom and dad may have taken care of your dealings with the IRS, but there is no time like the present to start to tackle filing taxes yourself. Taxes may not be fun, but you gotta do what you gotta do. Here are some things you may not know about how to file taxes, plus tips for college students on how to make the process just a little bit easier, especially if you’ve put them off until the last minute.
First things first: you may be operating under the delusion that college students don’t have to file with the IRS. Au contraire! That is just one of the tax myths debunked on efile.com in “Student tax myths and tips.”
Some other myths include:
- You can’t deduct student loan interest because your parents pay it. In fact you can, IF “you are the person responsible for paying it out” and IF “nobody made a dependency exemption for you.”
- You can deduct the expenses of looking for your first job. Sorry, no can do. Later job searches in the same field, yes, but not the first time out of the gate.
- You can deduct school housing or dormitory charges. Again, nope, no dice.
- You can deduct moving costs to go to school. The only time the IRS lets you deduct moving expenses is when you are looking for a new job and have to relocate.
According to another article on e-file.com, you must file taxes
- If you were claimed as a dependent and you received more than $5,700 in earned income (or you received more than $400 in income from self-employment, $950 from unearned income, or $108.25 from a church).
- If you were not claimed as a dependent and you earned more than $9,350.
Do it yourself tax filing
You’re a college student—you’re smart, bold and confident. Surely you can handle doing your own taxes, right? Perhaps, but before you head down the road of filing your own taxes via a tax software program, remember these tips offered in Sharon Harvey-Rosenberg’s “7 tips for getting more from DIY tax programs” posted February 28, 2011, on U.S. News & World Report’s My Money blog:
1. Always download any program updates if you are using tax software. Tax laws can change at the last minute.
2. Read the program’s directions carefully and fully answer the preliminary questions or it could affect your return.
3. Check out the latest tax law changes at the IRS’s “Am I Eligible” tool and other online resources at IRS.gov.
4. Use the support assistance offered with the tax software if, and when, you need help.
5. The program’s default options for credits and deductions may be your best bet.
6. Filing electronically not only cuts down on paper waste, it also can get you your refund money faster.
Time to file taxes
When filing your taxes there are some things that all college students should remember. For instance, the earlier you start the better. And don’t expect to get it all done in one night. It is probably best to allow yourself at least an entire weekend to sort out all your tax details. What else? Dana Dratch offered “A dozen tax tips for college students” at Bankrate.com.
Dratch shared that one thing that can be especially important for college students is to figure out where you live. It sounds crazy, but she made the point that “If you’re going to college in one state and spending summers at home in another, you could have two states vying for your tax dollars.”
College students shouldn’t automatically file the 1040EZ form, either. As Dratch wrote, “the form automatically assumes you will claim yourself as a dependent.” This will cause you and your parents some trouble with the IRS if your parents have made the same claim. Paying taxes can be bad enough; there’s no need to make it worse by getting Uncle Sam mad at you, right?
Do you like to get your taxes done early or do you wait until the last minute? If you have any tips on how to not procrastinate when it comes time to file with the IRS, let us know in the comments below.