Graduate student offers tax advice

Filing taxes as a college student can seem more stressful than necessary – feeling more like a final exam than a part of life. Students may wonder if the government is testing their organizational skills or their math skills.

Although the stress of filing taxes remains present, there are tips and tricks to ensure they are filed correctly and benefit students.

1. Set aside a weekend.

Filing taxes may not take the entire weekend, but it is better to be safe than sorry. Setting aside a weekend allows students to organize and gather paperwork and to grasp the concept of taxes before diving in. Students who give themselves the proper amount of time to focus on filing taxes have better results and have less last-minute stress.

“Taxes do take time,” said Jennifer Anderson, accounting graduate student from Louisville, Ky. “If you would like to receive your refund in a timely manner, I would recommend not waiting until the last minute to file.”

2. Know the dates.

Knowing when W2’s are mailed out and when taxes are due is half the battle. Organizing papers and making sure to have everything that is needed on time is an important step in relieving stress students face at tax time.

“Tax returns are due April 15,” Anderson said. “Make sure you have all your forms. Leaving out a W2 or other earnings can significantly impact your tax return.”

3. Determine place of residence and dependency.

Students who live in one state and go to school in another may run into some trouble when filing taxes, especially if they have a job in both. Those who are in that situation should check to be sure what taxes must be paid and to where they must be paid. Also, some parents still claim students as dependents on their tax forms, especially if they are paying tuition. Communication with parents about the financial situations and whether they are claiming their child on taxes is important in order to ensure the proper tax return or pay-in and avoid a letter or an audit from the IRS.

4. Practice and double check before submitting.

Printing out several copies of the tax papers can be beneficial for practice. By filling in the papers for practice, white out is less likely to be a necessity. Practicing on paper is especially important for those filing online. Always double check the work before submission.

“Be sure to have all items of income, including wages and scholarships, on the tax return before you file,” Anderson said.

Bankrate.com even suggests waiting a day before going back to check for errors.

5. Utilizing helpful sources.

Nowadays, there are many automated computer systems such as TurboTax to make the process of filing taxes a little easier. If using a computer system doesn’t appeal to some students, Murray State’s accounting department offers free preparation of taxes in Room 353 of the Arthur J. Bauernfeind College of Business.

“(Taxes) are done by junior and senior accounting majors on most Fridays until the filing date from noon to 4 p.m,” Anderson said. “The students are all certified to file both federal and state tax returns.”

The service is completely free. Students need to bring their Social Security Card, or a passport for the international students, their W2 form and a prior year’s return if possible.

Story by Hunter Harrell, Staff writer.