Well, it’s that time of year again- the dreaded tax season. Even though it’s January and tax day isn’t until April 15, it’s never too early to start the process.
Americans refer to tax season as a chore, but if done correctly, filing taxes can be made simple. Assistant Professor of Economics William McColloch said he encourages students not to stress about what lies ahead for filing returns. “I think the hardest part for students is getting over the apprehension or fear of filing taxes. If you have one or limited incomes, the process has never been made more easy,” he said.
According to the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) website, any employee who works in the state and has taxes withheld from previous paychecks are eligible to file. The first step is figuring out your annual gross and net income. The IRS defines gross annual income as what employers pay before taxes, while the net annual income is what the employees receive from their paychecks after tax deductions. From that information, you can figure out where the tax deductions are. However, the IRS states that each state in the U.S. has different tax deductions; these deductions can be looked up at IRS.gov.
Keene State College health science student Casey Williams files her own taxes and says this step is the most challenging. “Honestly, the most confusing thing about filing taxes for me is trying to figure out the actual amount of money you file for,” she said.
Once all the math is done, it’s time to fill out the forms. With advances in technology, there are multiple ways to get this task done. The traditional route is the classic paper tax return. Tax returns are no longer sent in the mail, but these forms can be downloaded from IRS.gov. The problem with this choice is that the IRS states they prefer alternative filing because it takes longer and there’s a possibility for mistakes.
Not to mention, the wait for a tax refund could take a total of six to eight weeks.
Another route for your returns is electronic filing or e-filing. Out of all options, the IRS claims this is the most preferred. It involves doing it yourself on an online software like TurboTax and H&R Block. The IRS even has a filing system on the website that’s completely free.
Williams agreed e-filing is the best way to go and said, “I use TurboTax. It makes everything easier.” The IRS also states, TurboTax teamed up with Apple last year and created an app that helps you file your taxes with just the identification of your fingerprint.
The IRS claims this is the fastest way to file returns and if you e-file with direct deposit, you’ll receive your return in as little as ten days. Administrative staff member of Financial Aid at KSC Den’Al McElhiney said he thinks being electronically advanced and being ahead of schedule will help students file their returns. “In this day and age, some basic knowledge needed to file taxes includes obviously computer skills, arithmetic, a general understanding of tax codes and getting your information together before you sit down to actually do your taxes,” he said.
The other option is filing your taxes through a tax preparer. However, students might tend to distance themselves from tax paperers because they are the only option that involves paying for a filing service. On the IRS website, it’s states that they use the same process of paper-filing and e-filing, so the need for tax preparers is slowly dying down as technology progresses. Tax preparers are a good way to go if you have absolutely no idea what you’re doing.
So what’s the best way to file taxes? Usually people say paper because it makes them feel more secure with all the recent data hackings, but, e-filing is quicker, more efficient and most recommended.
This seems like a lot to take in, given that the deadline for tax returns is in April. Although, if taxpayers miss the deadline, they may suffer late fees or even losing the return. It’s important that all U.S. citizens check their eligibility for their refunds. This, again, can be done at IRS.gov.
Grace Kelly can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org