Filing your taxes can be hard, especially if you were never taught how to do it. For college students, we either get our parents to do it for us or we struggle to get it done by ourselves. Here are three tips to prevent you from stressing about filing your taxes.
1. Enrolled agents can help you
If you’ve never filed taxes before, find an enrolled agent to assist you. Enrolled agents are federally licensed tax practitioners who specialize in taxation. Most EAs will give you a free consultation before filing your taxes. They want to help you understand how filing your taxes works so in the future you’ll know what to do. Depending on if you are filing for personal or business and who you use, filing with an EA can be relatively cheap. Overall, an EA can shed light on taxes that you never learned in high school.
2. Scholarships and school supplies are your best friend
Scholarships can provide you with money to help pay for college. But, they are normally tax-free. This means you don’t have to include them as taxable income when you calculate your refund. Also, putting all your costs that you spent on school can boost how much money you receive from your refund check. Any books, stationery, pens and laptops you bought for school can be calculated into your costs. Keep up with all of your receipts for school.
3. Tax scams and frauds are out there
If you start receiving phone calls or text messages from the IRS, don’t respond. The IRS will never call you on the phone; they will send you a letter in the mail. Also, watch out for people who promise a bigger refund check. While more money is good, it could be a scam. Do research on that person before accepting them as your tax preparer. You can look at the IRS website for registered tax preparers. Contact local tax service offices and find out about their tax preparers they have.
Websites, offices to help file your taxes
TurboTax is one of the easiest tools online to use when filing your taxes. You answer questions about your income, rent, children and donations so TurboTax knows how to assist you. TurboTax asks these questions in a simple language that everyone can understand. Also, you can take a picture of your W-2s so you don’t have to manually type the information. TurboTax is free unless you want to use their deluxe program to online chat a CPA. TurboTax also gives an estimated date that you will receive your refund check.
Credit Karma Tax
Similar to TurboTax, Credit Karma Tax provides a simple way to file taxes in an online setting. It is free and allows you to speak with a tax preparer online. Credit Karma Tax will show you all your potential deduction options so you can get your max refund. And if you are filing an amended return, it will cover up to $100 of your difference with a gift card. Credit Karma Tax will only show you the sections that apply to your circumstances to make the process less confusing.
For those who prefer face-to-face help, Jackson Hewitt is the service for you. Luckily for you, Jackson Hewitt offices are everywhere. You can file taxes in office or at a Walmart. They are open late and on weekends if you have a busy schedule. You can even drop off your tax documents to the tax preparer and come back later. The process is different from online though. You must bring your W-2s, driver’s license, Social Security card and other important documents whenever you go to their offices. Also, it costs between $30-$50 to file with Jackson Hewitt.
A last option is H&R Block. H&R Block provides multiple options for filing your taxes. You can come in their offices, drop-off your documents or use Tax Pro Go. Tax Pro Go is getting help from a tax preparer without going into an office. However, the prices range from $50-$70. H&R Block does have an income tax calculator that you can use for free. It can give a rough estimate on how much money you will get as a refund or how much you will owe. You just provide a few details about your income and expenses.