It’s tax time again, folks! Now I know that nobody likes to deal with what could be a complicated and confusing process of filing your income taxes, but it may be required of you by the government, and even if you aren’t required to file, you may be entitled to a refund! And who doesn’t want to get money back? If you had any earned income during 2013 and had tax withheld from your paycheck, then it is worthwhile to file your taxes. You may have a refund coming your way if you do! Here are some helpful tips to help you get going on your taxes.
First off, start early! Even though filing isn’t due until April 15th, getting a head start may keep you from running into problems later. The closer it gets to due date, the more difficult it will be to get help and advice from a tax professional if you get into a bind. Also, starting early can help budget the time it will take to finish filing. It shouldn’t take too long to fill out the forms for a college student that has only one job, but you don’t want to procrastinate and not give yourself the time to properly fill out the forms. Even if you haven’t received your W-2s yet, you can still get started (note: a W-2 is tax form that shows the amount of taxes withheld from your paycheck for the year and is used to file your federal and state taxes). Your final pay stub will have pertinent tax information, such as your income and what was withheld. Another form that’s already available to you that you shouldn’t forget is your 1098-T. The 1098-T is the Tuition Statement. K-State has made these available to all students. The 1098-T can be accessed in iSIS, under the Finances section of the iSIS Student Center. The 1098-T reports the amount of qualified education expenses paid by the student during the year. These expenses are used to calculate what tax credits are available to the student for the year. Below is a link to a video provided by TurboTax that has some good information in regards to the 1098-T.
It’s important to know your filing status, where you need to file, and know what you are qualified to deduct or get a tax credit for. It’s important to talk to your parents and find out what your filing status is. If your parents provided more than half of your support for the year, they are entitled to claim you as a dependent, meaning they would be the ones who can take advantage of education-related tax benefits.
Another thing to consider is where you need to file. Aside from needing to file with the federal government, you will need to file with all states in which you worked. That means, for example, that if you are an out of state student, and you worked here in Kansas during the school year, but also worked during the summer back home, you may be required to file taxes in both states. You can file a Kansas tax return online for free at www.ksrevenue.org. You’ll need to check each state’s website for specific details relating to filing requirements for that state.
It’s always a good idea to find out if you qualify for some deductions to your taxable income or if you qualify for some relief from your taxes owed through tax credits. For students, it’s a good idea to look at that 1098-T mentioned earlier. It will have information on what tuition and fees you paid this year that can be deducted from your taxable income for the year. You can also deduct a portion of the student loan interest you paid during the year. The Student Loan Interest Deduction is available to recent grads who have started paying back loans and to current students who have put in some early payments that apply to paying down some of that loan interest already accrued. Credits are another good way to reduce your taxes. It’s a smart move if you look in to seeing if you or your parents would be eligible for some education-related tax credits. Three of the main credits offered are the Hope Scholarship Credit, American Opportunity Credit, and the Lifetime Learning Credit. The link below gives some additional information on some of these benefits. For more information you can always visit the IRS website as well.
Here is a list of some free Tax Preparation Services that may be helpful to you:
VITA – a free tax service available at the Manhattan Public Library. They prepare simple IRS 1040 tax returns and Kansas returns only. Maximum Household income is $52,000. To set up an appointment call 785-565-6426 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For further information, contact Jennifer Wilson at the Riley County Extension Office at 785-537-6350.
www.irs.gov – FreeFile oline of federal taxes if income is less than $57,000
www.ksrevenue.org – free online filing for Kansas state taxes
Glacier Tax Prep for international students. Link available at www.k-state.edu/isss
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