In this time of transition, college students are often handed adult tasks with little to no knowledge of how to manage them. Spring is just around the corner, and so are your taxes.
If you were employed in the past year, you should have received your W-2 tax form by now. If you haven’t, it is time to make a call to politely remind your employer. A W-2 form will detail your wages and withholdings. Withholdings break down into state and federal categories and are the amounts that have been taken out of our paychecks throughout the year. If you see that there are any withholdings, you should definitely file your taxes or that money will just be a nice donation to the IRS.
Most of us would be considered dependents. We are still under the wing of our parents and can therefore file under them. It is important to get your W-2 form in the hands of your parents as soon as possible. Really, going to someone who has been there before and understands more of the lingo is the best route to take. Even online tax services can be tricked. Senior Emily Ann Braziel took on her taxes last spring with TurboTax.
“As simple as TurboTax makes it, there are still words that I didn’t know,” Braziel said. “I had to call my dad a few times.”
Several of us work side jobs that don’t have an official employer. We might babysit, tutor or mow lawns in the summer. In these cases, you will not receive a W-2 and will need to file a 1099 form stating your self-employed income. If you did not keep exact records of your income for 2016, an estimation will be sufficient.
Another area to consider is any scholarships or grants you might be receiving. You should receive a form titled “Tuition Statement 1098-T” from Harding that should be filed with your W-2. You will need to know the details of those scholarships and what you are allowed to use them on (ie. books, tuition, housing, etc.), as well as what you ended up using those funds on and how long you have been attending Harding.
It is easy to get overwhelmed with all the numbered and lettered tax forms, or knowing what tax forms you need. However, it is important to remember the resources available to us. Professors in the business building, paid professionals at your local H&R Block and your parents can always point you in the right direction. Patrick Stanford, a professional accountant at Potts & Company Certified Public Accountants in Fort Smith, offered some advice.
“If you’re not comfortable doing your own taxes, seek a professional,” Stanford said. “When you get your W-2 in the mail, don’t shuffle it to the side. Know if you are a dependent or not, and keep good records of all your income.”