One of the unpleasant responsibilities of being an adult is approaching fast. Emancipation Day will be celebrated on April 15 and is a federal holiday, meaning taxes will be due on April 18 so there will be a few extra days to file.
Although filing taxes can be stressing, there are several tools which can help ease the burden while navigating the confusing world of government bureaucracy. Ted Uy, a computer science student, says he never does his own taxes because it is so confusing.
“I think if you let someone do it, they can help you increase your tax return, because they know how to do it,” Uy said.
The first thing to is determine if you need to pay taxes. Anyone with earned income is required to pay, however students whose parents provide 50 percent or more in financial support do not need to file taxes if their parents claim them as dependents. Other students at Lewis and Clark Community College need to pay Federal and State taxes, for Illinois or Missouri, depending on your residence. Everyone needs their W2’s, which are employer issued wage and tax statements, to report wages earned. Other forms are the 1099, for miscellaneous income and the 1098 e for anybody with student loans.
Justin Hale, L&C’s instructor of business and accounting, suggests that first time taxpayers utilize the services of the Alton Area Tax Project, located in Room NUL203 in the Nursing Building of L&C. They are available on Tuesday and Thursday from 5:30 p.m.-8 p.m. and on Saturday 10 a.m.-1 p.m. They will help anyone who makes less than $54,000 a year do their taxes for free. No prior scheduling is required, but students need to bring a valid photo ID, Social Security card or Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (this is also a requirement for any dependents) W2s, all 1099s & 1098s. On top of this, Illinois homeowners will need parcel numbers. The last thing is a copy of a voided check or bank account and routing numbers for direct deposit.
Hale also pointed out some of the common mistakes and pitfalls to avoid while filing. He recommends always double checking your information – one of the most common mistakes is using the wrong social security number, which can lead to major complications with the IRS and possibly other taxpayers. In the case of this mistake occurring, it is important that it is straightened out immediately because it may cause penalties. The second thing emphasised is turning your taxes in on time. In the case of failing to file, there will be a penalty for late returns. “As far as returns go, file as early as you can and use a reputable service,” Hale said. “Be skeptical of services who aren’t certified as public accountants.”
For students who need help, they can talk to Justin Hale or check with the Alton Area Tax Project at http://altonareataxproject.org/index.html for free help.