Deadline to File Taxes Quickly Approaches

Category:  News
Wednesday, April 6th, 2016 at 11:40 PM
Deadline to File Taxes Quickly Approaches by Kimberly Firestine
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The deadline to file 2015 taxes is April 18.

This is one real life responsibility students cannot afford to avoid.

There is always a little bit of confusion on what you need, what you qualify for and where to file, but once you have those figured out, it’s not as complicated as it may seem.

As a student, there are a few important documents you need in order to file.

First is the tuition statement (form 1098-T). For Edinboro students, this is mailed to your provided permanent address and accessible online. To access it online, go to your Scots account on myEdinboro, click on “Student Services” and “Financial Aid,” go to “Student Records” and then, finally, click on “Tax Notification.” You’ll then have to choose which year you’d like your tax information for (in this case, you’d select 2015).

If you had a work-study grant or were employed for any portion of 2015, you’ll need your W-2. If you don’t elect to receive it online through the e-Time portal on myEdinboro or the website provided by your employer, it is automatically mailed to your permanent address. You will need all tax income forms for each job you worked throughout any duration of 2015.

You’ll also need to know or have your social security number on hand. If you do not know your social security number or need a copy of your card, you can obtain one from the Social Security Administration (SSA). As long as you are not requesting a name change, are 18 or older, or have a valid driver’s license or state-issued identification card from Washington D.C., Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Nebraska, New Mexico, Washington or Wisconsin, a copy can be obtained through the SSA website.

Otherwise, you must print and fill out an application and bring it to your local social cecurity office along with the required documents (birth certificate, passport, driver’s license).

If you file and are planning to have a refund, you can receive it by mail in the form of a check or through direct deposit. For direct deposit, you will need you bank routing number and your account number. You can acquire these by calling your bank or locating them on a check. The bank routing number is a ninedigit number located on the bottom left of a check, while your account number is the set of numbers following the routing number.

When you have all of those documents collected, there are a variety of ways you can file your taxes. You can give the documents to your parents and let them handle it, take advantage of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program on campus that is provided by Erie Free Taxes, take them to a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), visit the in-store offices for Jackson Hewitt Tax Services at Wal-Mart, or use a software program to file them yourself.

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is provided for free to those who qualify and is done by volunteers who successfully completed the IRS Basic and Advanced Tax Exams. It is open to anyone who earned $53,000 or less, people with disabilities, the elderly and those who are not fluent in English.

The program is available until April 14 in Wiley room 114 on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4-8 p.m., according to Erie Free Taxes Programs Director Cheryl Bates. It is recommended that you make an appointment ahead of time by calling (888) 829- 5680.

As for a CPA, the National Society of Accountants reported in their annual Tax Return Preparation Fee Averages survey that the average charge by its members to file a 1040 with state filing, but without itemized deductions (the most basic tax return form), was $159. Depending on whether or not you feel paying that much out of pocket or out of your refund is reasonable, it’s an option for those who are not so familiar with the tax process. There’s also the option of heading to your local Wal-Mart and having your taxes prepared there. In Edinboro’s Wal-Mart, services are provided by Jackson Hewitt Tax Services. Fees and hours may vary depending on which store you go to and which tax services you need.

If you feel that your tax situation is simple enough to try on your own, you might consider using software or online programs such as Intuit TurboTax or H&R Block. Trent Hamm’s The Simple Dollar — “a personal finance blog that provides frugality and money management tips, ideas for frugal living with high quality of life” — praised TurboTax as “the most streamlined and intuitive way to file your state and federal taxes.”

Price wise, TurboTax’s federal filing ranges from the free basic filing to the more extensive $79.99 filing. H&R Block’s federal also starts at a free of charge basic level, but only goes as high as a $49.99 charge. State filing for TurboTax starts at $27.99 and goes up to $36.99, with H&R Block following suit.

In general, these two software programs offer the same options, but do differ on a couple of levels. TurboTax doesn’t have any office locations, but does provide an extensive breakdown of education background and is a simple point-and-click system, while H&R Block doesn’t have a distinguishably different home and business edition. TurboTax also has a $39.99 processing fee if you pay for your filing with your refund, but provides strong audit protection.

If you have a simple tax return and are looking to save money, there’s also the program TaxAct. According to The Simple Dollar, “TaxAct is undeniably one of the most affordable, best tax software options on the market for the standard taxpayer, with its deluxe option priced at only $12.99.”

For international students, filing taxes is also something that has to be done. International students may file a 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ form, and have special filing requirements as stated on the IRS website.

The International Student Services office on the second floor of the Baron-Forness Library, room 215, will help you choose a tax software program to use or locate a tax office for you. You can make an appointment with the ISS office by calling (814) 732-2770.

Kimberly Firestine is a Senior Staff Writer for The Spectator.

Tags: taxes, edinboro, news

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