Monday, April 15, or as most Americans know as Tax Day, is quickly approaching. If you haven't started or are in the process of getting everything you'll need to file your taxes, here are some tips to help get you through it.
You Can File Your Taxes For Free.
If you're a college student strapped for cash, paying someone to file your taxes may not be an option. Fortunately, nearly anyone can file taxes for free if they're willing to use certain products and systems. When it comes to which free tax-filing product is best for you, "it really depends on your specific situation," says Eric Roebuck, lead product manager for H&R Block. Some tax filing software free to use includes:
- TurboTax Free Edition
- H&R Block Free Edition
- eSmart Tax
- TaxAct Free Federal Edition
- TaxSlayer Free Federal Edition
Remember each taxpayer is different, so be sure to select the best software for your filing needs.
Make a List of What Forms You'll Need.
From a W-2 to a 1098-T, these are both forms you'll need if you're a working college student. These forms are typically mailed; however, they may also be found online. If they are mailed, they will be mailed to the address you listed when you began your time with that respective business. If your address has changed since then it may be best to reach out & confirm they have your current address. But how do you know which forms you should be looking out for? Below are four forms that college students may need when filing their taxes.
- W-2: You’ll receive this from your employer; it contains any taxes that were withheld from your paycheck. If you don’t receive one & you were employed by a business in 2018, contact that employer to confirm your address.
- Form 1098-T: This is your tuition statement, which your college should provide. It will include information you’ll need to report to claim education credits such as tuition paid, related expenses, any scholarships or grants you received, and any adjustments from last year. If you haven’t received this form, contact your school to request it.
- Form 8863: You’ll need this to see if you qualify for education credits, including the American Opportunity Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit.
- Form 1098-E: You’ll need this to deduct any interest you paid on a qualified student loan during the tax year. If you paid more than $600 in interest, your lender should send you this form.
Watch Out for Scams.
Scams can come in many forms including emails, phone calls, texts, and more. According to the IRS, thousands of people have lost millions of dollars and their personal information to tax scams. Scammers use the mail, phone, or email to dupe individuals, businesses, payroll and tax professionals. Students should remember that the IRS doesn't ask for private information (i.e. social security number) over the phone, email, text message, or social media.
If you happen to come across someone posing as an IRS official, make sure you take down their name, title, and phone number and report the incident to the police.
Be Patient When Filing.
Getting money back from the government is exciting, but you should remember not to rush through filing your taxes just to get a refund quicker. By rushing through the process, you run the risk of making a mistake which could result in giving part of your refund back to the government. To be on the safe side, you should always wait a few weeks to spend your refund in case something goes wrong.
Don't Blow Your Refund.
Getting a check back from your taxes can tempt you to spend it on non-necessities like a vacation or electronic device. While it's OK to splurge a little, you should remember that you'll be better off in the long run by putting some away in a savings account or paying off true necessities like debt, bills, etc.