Feb 14 2017

Everything You Should Know About Filing Your Taxes for the First Time

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Everything You Should Know About Filing Your Taxes for the First Time

Filing your taxes for the first time can be a nerve-racking experience.  After all, the IRS means business when it comes to taxes.  Perhaps you fear that you will make a mistake and the secret IRS police will come into your classroom and take you away.  Or rather, you may be unsure as to whether you are actually getting the most out of your return.  You may have many preconceived notions about what the IRS is like, making you terrified of making a mistake when you file.  However, these issues should not burden you.  This article is meant to dispel the common fears regarding tax season by educating you on everything you need to know about filing your taxes for the first time.

Obtain all of your W-2 Forms

Many students start off working multiple jobs.  This is often the case in college or during summer breaks.  Perhaps you started with one job, found you had extra time or did not make enough money, and then you gained another.  Or perhaps you quit one job for another, higher paying job.  You may have easily gone through three jobs in a year, so it is important to keep note of the jobs you have had.  Furthermore, make sure all of your jobs, past and present, have updated information as to your current address.  Make the process smoother by having the human resource department send your W-2 directly to you and not to your parents or an old apartment.

Check for Mistakes

The first thing you should do before you file is to check your statements for any errors.  Your human resource department will not always be perfect, so it is always possible that they will make errors on your return.  Check your W-2 for any errors in the spelling of your name, job position, and especially your social security number.  If there is even one mistake, it is best to let your human resources department know so they can fix it and you can receive a new W-2.  Secondly, you should check for any errors in your filing status and any taxes withheld.  If it doesn’t match with your original W-4, let your job know to prevent further discrepancies with the IRS.

Remember You Cannot Claim Exemptions if you are a Dependent

Unfortunately, you will likely not get as much out of your return if you are still listed as a dependent.  If you are unsure, ask your parents before filing.  This is a common mistake students make.  The IRS states that a dependent is either a qualifying child or qualifying relative who meets age requirements, full-time student status, or income.  Investigate the details to be sure you are not a dependent.

Always File

Whether you owe or you are owed a return, you should always file.  Tax law states that any student who earned less than $6,100 in the tax year does not have to file.  This may be a relief to you if you forgot to file, however, you are missing a huge opportunity if you choose not to file.  Because that amount makes up for such a small income, you can earn much of that money back. Not only that, but filing every year will get you in the habit of making it a priority so you always have accurate records.

Reach Out for Help

Many students reach out for extra assistance when they go to file their taxes.  If you already find yourself in a complicated tax position, it is especially important. While accounting software can help you itemize all of your taxes and deductions, a tax professional can teach you so much more.  By hiring a professional or talking to companies that help people with tax debt, you can get services with a human touch.  You can ask questions to a live person who can educate you on tax law and help outline your financial future.

Filing your taxes doesn’t need to be scary. Keep these tips in mind and you’ll be an old pro at filing in no time.

 


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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife and mother of 3. I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

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