Tax season is a daunting time for anyone—especially college students, who are often handling taxes on their own for the first time.

Filing taxes might sound complicated. However, with the right guidance, it can become a mostly straightforward, replicable process. 

Below, we’ll explore tax filing options for college students and some tips to help them navigate their tax obligations efficiently and stress-free!

1. Use College Resources

Many colleges and universities provide resources to help students with tax filing. They might host workshops, offer informational sessions, or provide free access to tax professionals who can assist in completing tax returns. 

Check with your school’s financial aid office to see what resources are available.

Here are some resources in the Grand Rapids area:

2. Tax Clinics

Some communities offer free or low-cost tax clinics, where certified volunteers help individuals, including students, with their tax returns. 

These clinics are often organized by non-profit organizations. They can be a great way to receive personalized assistance for specific questions about taxes!

Here are a few resources:

3. Hire a Professional

Some financial situations are more complex—perhaps with multiple income sources, investments, or other unique circumstances. In this case, it might be worth considering hiring a tax professional. 

This option might incur a cost. However, the expertise a tax professional brings can help maximize deductions and minimize the chance of errors.

There are many ways to find a professional to assist with tax filing for college students. It may be smart to start with a parent’s tax preparer. It’s worth nothing that tax professionals often offer discounted fees to prepare returns for dependent children!

Another solution is to search the web. Look for professionals in the area, and be sure to look at reviews and testimonials. Additionally, consider asking around for some recommendations, as well.

Tips for College Students Filing Taxes

1. Gather All Documents

Before filing, collect all the necessary documents such as W-2 forms, 1098-T forms (for education-related expenses), gig work documents, virtual currency activity, and any other records of income or expenses.

2. Determine Filing Status

Filing status (e.g., single, married, head of household) determines tax rate and eligibility for certain deductions. Be sure to choose the correct status!

3. Determine Who Will Claim You

If you are not claimed as a dependent on another taxpayer’s return, you can claim yourself which will reduce your taxable income. These rules can be complex for college students. Therefore, be sure to consult a tax professional.

4. Claim Education Credits

College students often qualify for education-related tax credits if they are not claimed as a dependent by another taxpayer. Examples include the American Opportunity Credit or the Lifetime Learning Credit. These credits can help offset education expenses.

5. Explore Deductions

Don’t forget to explore potential deductions like gig worker expenses, student loan interest, and IRA contributions. 

6. File Even If You Don’t Owe

Those that have earned very little income might not owe any taxes. However, it still may be a good idea to file a return to claim any refunds that are available!

Know a College Student Filing Taxes for the First Time? Send Them This Guide!

Tax filing for college students doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task. With these tips and tricks, it can be handled efficiently and stress-free.

Send this blog to a college student to help them prepare for tax season! For any other tax help, contact us today.