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Tackle Your Taxes - What You Need to Know

Do you need to file taxes this year?

Tackle Your TaxesYou may or may not have filed taxes in the past. You may or may not file taxes this year. The deadline to file a tax return is April 15, but it is important to begin the process early. Starting early will give you time to gather the right tax documents, review your tax filing status, and find help with filing.


How Much Can You Make Before Having to File

If you earn less than $12,000, you are not required to file a tax return. However, you may still want to file if you worked and had any income taxes withheld from your paychecks. You could receive a refund.

Are You Being Claimed on Your Parent’s Taxes

If you are in college your parents may still claim you on their tax return because it allows your parents to claim certain tax benefits. When you file your taxes, you will be asked if someone else can claim you as a dependent, make sure to ask your family.

Tax Credits for College Students

If you are in your first four years of college, you qualify for the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC). This is a $2,500 tax credit for tuition and fees that can bring your (or your parents) taxes owed to zero. If you already do not have any tax liability, you can have up to $1,000 refunded to you.

For students who are not in their first four years, or who are in graduate school there is the Lifetime Learning Credit (LLC). The maximum credit allowed is 20% of up to $10,000 ($2,000) for tuition, fees, and any books or supplies needed.

You can only claim one of these credits at a time. You cannot claim both in the same year.

If you are making payments on a student loan, you may deduct the lessor of $2,500 or the amount of interest you actually paid during the year.

Documents Needed

W-2: If you worked for an employer, you should have received a W-2.

1099: If you earned income as a contract employee (such as Uber), this amount will be included in this document.

1098-T: This document is sent to the student by the college or university which tallies expenses paid.

1098-E: This document summarized the amount of student loan interest payments that were paid.


Filing Your Taxes

You can file your taxes using free versions of popular tax software or IRS fillable forms if you made less than $66,000 last year. Visit the IRS Free File website ( for information. If you made less than $54,000, you can receive free assistance at a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site. Many college and universities host a VITA site every year.

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