For many students, filing taxes is a yearly ritual met with dread, but the pain associated with the task can be lessened if the situation is handled the correct way.
Sue Frey of Frey’s Premium Tax Service in Energy said a little organization can go a long way when filing a tax return. Frey has 24 years of experience helping people with tax preparation, accounting, payroll and business services.
“Students need to have their W2’s, social security cards and checkbook for bank account information handy when filing for taxes,” she said.
For many, getting started is the key issue. With a job and schoolwork, the added stress of tax season can be overwhelming in the days leading up to the April 17 deadline.
“I recently changed my major, so most of my time has been spent catching up on school work,” Kyle Frick, a junior from Atlanta studying civil engineering, said. “I haven’t started thinking about my taxes yet.”
Frey said once a student has assembled the necessary information, he or she can set up an appointment to receive help at a number of places in the area. She said this usually costs around $35.
Some students aren’t willing or cannot afford to pay for these services. These students can do their own taxes, use an online tax service or receive help through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, which is run by the Beta Alpha Psi chapter of the SIUC School of Accountancy.
Raymond Wacker, associate professor of Accountancy, said any student can use the services provided by VITA.
He said student members of Beta Alpha Psi are available from 8 a.m. to noon every Saturday in Rehn Hall until April 15, excluding the Saturdays before and after Spring Break. The process takes around an hour, and members will also file returns electronically. Students seeking help should bring their W2 forms and social security cards, he said.
Wacker said he estimates 2,000 to 3,000 students receive assistance from the program each year.
For students who prefer to file their own taxes, H&R Block and Turbo Tax offer online services, and H&R Block has three locations in the Carbondale area.
Michael Devine, IRS spokesman for Illinois, Missouri and Kansas, said having an understanding of how the system works can be extremely helpful and save students money.
Two tax credits, or sums deducted from the amount owed, offered by the IRS are geared toward college students and designed to offset the cost of higher education by reducing the amount of income tax an individual must pay.
The American Opportunity Credit is worth $2,500, and the Lifetime Learning Credit is $2,000. He said to receive these credits, one generally must pay qualified expenses for the higher education of a student, spouse or self.
If qualified, these credits can be a huge financial help to students, he said.
Although it may seem worth procrastinating for another day or two, once a student is organized and has found a system that works for him- or herself, it is an easy job, Frey said.
“Once you answer the questions, it takes about fifteen minutes to fill out the forms,” she said. “They will be out of your way and you will be free for another year.”
Ben Conrady can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 536-3311 ext. 254.