7 Tips for Doing Your Own Taxes as a College Student
Whether you’ve filed your taxes before or not, it’s a whole new ballgame when you’re a student. Here are 7 tips to help you get through the daunting task of filing your taxes as a college student.
1. Determine Whether You Need to File
Depending on your age, income, filing status, and whether your parents are claiming you as a dependent, you may not even need to file taxes as a student. If you made less than $10,350 last year, you may be off the hook. However, it’s always a good idea to see if you can get refunded for taxes withheld from your paychecks.
2. You May Be Able to Deduct Student Loan Interest
Even if your parents are making payments on your student loans for you, if you are ultimately the primary party responsible for the loan, you can claim a deduction for the interest paid. Just make sure your parents aren’t claiming you as a dependent.
3. Choose the 1040EZ
Unless you have a job that would require a more complicated tax form, use the 1040EZ. This form is straightforward and easy to navigate, which is helpful when you’re doing your taxes yourself for the first time.
4. Make Sure You Apply for FAFSA
Whether or not you think you’ll qualify for financial assistance at school, make sure you fill out the FAFSA paperwork to be considered for federal financial aid for those who qualify. This form typically requires your previous tax information, so it’s a good idea to fill it out after you’ve completed your taxes. You might be surprised at the government assistance you could qualify for, including grants and reduced-interest loans.
Get more help applying for FAFSA at California College San Diego.
5. Include All Income
Do you work a job in addition to taking classes? Make sure you account for every tip and payment you’ve received as a worker, because leaving anything off your taxes may result in penalty charges. It’s better to include everything from the start so you don’t leave yourself vulnerable to legal action in the future.
6. Be Thorough
Make sure you enter every college expense, including tuition and the cost of books. It’s a good idea to save receipts from every school-related purchase so you don’t forget to deduct them on your taxes and so, in the event of an audit, you can prove that you made those purchases.
7. Understand Education Credits
As a student, you may qualify for two tax credits: the American Opportunity Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit. To qualify for the American Opportunity Credit, you must be in your first four years of postsecondary education and cannot have any drug or felony offense on your record. The Lifetime Learning Credit, on the other hand, can be used for any courses you take to help build your job skillset, and it does not require you to have a clean record to qualify.
Knowledge Is Power
Understanding how to do your taxes and the credits to look for can take away some of the pain, and we hope these helpful hints will do just that. If you haven’t already, start working on your taxes today and see what you qualify for.
The tips and information provided in this blog post are not meant to replace the advice or consult of the Internal Revenue Service or that of professional tax experts. For official information regarding filing taxes, please visit www.irs.gov.