Tax Tips For First-Time Filers

Spring paints a lovely picture of blooming flowers, green leaves and chirping birds. Students cannot wait until the end of the quarter to embark on their exciting spring break journeys.
This serene picture, however, is usually accompanied by a dark cloud of tax-filing. Although some early birds are already enjoying their refunds, most people find themselves searching frantically for their W-2s on the eve of April 15.
In order to alleviate the stress of taxes, many financial institutions, books and computer programs devote their expertise to assisting tax payers in filling out the right forms and receiving the maximum refund.
In the age of Internet technology where the ability to bank, buy groceries, and order movies is only a few mouse-clicks away, it would only make sense that people can pay their taxes online with the growing amount of tax-paying Web sites.
‘If you’ve never paid taxes yourself, it can be very confusing. It’s better to have the computer to help you out,’ said Nick Sinigaglia, a fifth-year graduate student in philosophy who has benefited from the help of TurboTax.com.
With the increasing amount of young tax payers, companies started to provide help that target the needs of student tax payers.
RockYourRefund.com, a Web site produced by Intuit, the company that has been developing programs such as QuickBooks and TurboTax over the last two decades, is tailored to the needs of young tax payers.
‘Taking a look at the tax-paying population, 18.4 million of them are between the ages of 18 and 24. Most of them lack knowledge about taxes,’ said Michael Maron, director of RockYourRefund.com. ‘Our Web site provides a fast, simple and secure way to get your taxes done.’
The site welcomes its users with a colorful Web page design, replacing the corporate images of traditional tax paying software.
Users can start out by browsing through the Taxes 101 section, where the site talks about the concept of tax paying in general, helps the users to determine their tax-paying category and explains the uses of the most common forms.
‘Young tax payers usually have issues understanding what they need to file, what forms they need to fill out and what to do with those forms,’ Maron said.
The Web site even goes as far as explaining the use of the W2-G form for students who have had a little fun in Vegas and earned extra cash from gambling.
Once users have a general idea of what the tax-paying process entails, they can open up an account that charges $5.95 for federal taxes and $9.95 for state taxes. The site walks its users through the filing process, asking for relevant information that is appropriate for the users’ specific situations.
Another benefit of utilizing the site’s help is that ‘you don’t have to you do it all at once,’ Sinigaglia said. ‘It saves your entries and you can start up again at exactly where you left off.’
These sites not only eliminate the tedious drive to the libraries or post offices for the appropriate forms, but they also remind students of any student loan interests and charitable works that may give them the eligibility of extra refund.
Once all the information is completed and submitted to the government, users can expect their refund to be deposited into their specified account in less than two weeks.
‘You don’t want to file late,’ said Colleen Ferrin, communications manager of Intuit. ‘Go online, e-file and get your refund in 10 days.’
‘My returns came really fast in a week and a half and was deposited into my account automatically,’ said Jessica Blanchette, a fourth-year social ecology major.
Students who used to file under their parents and are struggling to understand tax paying should take advantage of the help of these tax-paying Web sites.
‘You know you are getting money back, so it’s a great reward for the little amount of work,’ Blanchette said.