How to file taxes for the first time

Emily Artus, Staff Writer

As April 18 nears, college students approach the adulthood milestone of filing a tax return. However, North Greenville University students can conquer tax season by following these simple guidelines.

1. Find out whether you need to file taxes.

According to IRS Publication 501, you do not need to file if your parents claim you as a dependent and your earned income is less than $6,300.

However, if you work a part-time or full-time job, filing as a dependent is usually profitable.

“If you’ve paid in for any federal or state taxes, you're eligible to get the money,” said accounting professor Tony Beck. “Anytime that you’ve earned money, you want to file.”

2. Fill out your W-2. Carefully.

Students receive W-2 forms from their employers in January or February. A W-2 provides the employer and the IRS with earned income and deductions for the year, Beck explained.

W-2 forms stump many at first glance so call a parent or check the IRS website for help.

3. Head to an in-person tax service, click on a tax filing website or fill out a paper form.

For in-person help, Beck recommended the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA), a free tax service with local sites.

H&R Block and Turbo Tax offer online filing services for most new filers.

“My dad walked me through it on Turbo Tax,” said Camilla Marcoux, a junior Intercultural Studies major. “It’s pretty straightforward if you have all your forms in order.”

And for most students, the two necessary forms are a W-2 and a 1099-T, which records college tuition.

Many students can easily file a paper form due to low income.

“A 1040EZ form is pretty simple, and you can follow directions on the (IRS) website,” Beck said.

Postmark the completed EZ form to the IRS before April 18.

Take advantage of tax deductions. Students filing independently can claim an education credit for tuition and textbooks, and dependent filers can claim a standard deduction.

Finally, remember to ask for help when needed.

“Seek a mentor, whether it be a parent or an online program that offers advice,” Beck said.

With guidance and preparation, North Greenville students can defeat tax season and rejoice when that tax return check arrives.