Help available for first-time tax filers

By Kate Augusto

In the midst of tax season, Taylor Obey knows there’s one person he needs to stay on good terms with.

“My mom still does mine,” said the freshman physical therapy major. “I would have no idea what to do.”

For those students whose parents aren’t as willing or able to help, there is simple advice for tax filing, said Tim Rupert, associate professor in the College of Business Administration.

“Most will have to put down work study and part-time jobs. Students can do this themselves,” Rupert said.

To get the basics of tax returns, Rupert suggests students who, like Obey, have no idea what to do, should look at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website and read Publication 17.

Tax returns should take about an hour from start to finish for students when they tackle the paperwork themselves, Rupert said, but professional help is also available. When doing their tax returns, he said, “students need to weigh how much time they want to spend versus how much money they want to spend. It’s a trade-off.”

Pat Kelly, a sophomore physical therapy major, said he has done his taxes since he was 16 and advises any students filing their own taxes to do it without professional help.

“It’s pretty easy,” said Kelly, who uses Turbo Tax software for free through the IRS website.

Taxpayers with an Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) of $52,000 or less in 2006 can file federal taxes online for free. AGIs are a taxpayer’s income, minus certain deductible items. Thirty-seven states, including Massachusetts, also allow those eligible for free federal filing to do their state taxes at the same time.

Kelly said filing taxes gets easier every year, and this year he got a $900 return.

“I used it to pay off my credit card bills. I claimed more than I should have [on my paycheck] because I knew I would get the money back when I really needed it,” Kelly said.

Kelly recommends students save a paper and digital copy of their returns because every year tax payers need their exact AGI from the previous year.

Several campus events are also available for students who need tax help.

Leave a Reply