Paving the path to this tax season

Alondra Hernandez, Contributing Writer

Tax season has arrived. Many students may be early birds, filing their taxes as soon as possible, while others may not know where to start.

Filing taxes on time is very important as late filing can result in consequences such as a late-payment penalty on any tax not paid by the deadline. According to the website, this year, the due date for filing federal individual income tax is April 18.

Many students struggle with taxes as a result of being inexperienced. Melanie Rivera, a Brookhaven Campus student, said, “Beware of who you are trusting with on helping you do your taxes, because there are people who will take advantage of the uneducated.”

Roberta Ansiaux, a business and career program faculty member, said: “There are all these radio announcements, TV, or everywhere about getting a file, getting your money, doing all this kind of stuff. And I think that just hypes it up or amps it up to where people just get scared. I would say fear is the No. 1 problem here.”

Not only do students have no clue on what to do, they may not know where to go for help. One resource is the website.

There is an abundance of material about tax forms and the IRS has not only a website but also a YouTube channel. VITA Program is a free service that offers basic tax return preparation, mainly for people who make $60,000 or less. Turbo Tax is a software program with planned prices and offers to prepare and e-filling your tax return with internet access and many more programs that help file tax returns.

Dallas College has a partnership with the Dallas Community Tax Center that helps individuals or families who make under $58,000 per year with free income tax preparation and more. There are seven locations in Dallas with  bilingual speakers and no appointments required.

Jonathan Hale, a volunteer coordinator for the Dallas Community Tax Center, said, “Our main goal is to find/allow taxpayers to have real financial stability and to help those in the community.” The program is coordinated by volunteers who are taught and trained to help the community.

A form that is important to certain students is the 1098-T form, found in eConnect under personal information. It provides the amount of tuition that was paid, including any scholarships, grants or refunds that were paid or received by the student in that year. The form is sent to certain students, and it helps collect education tax credits.

As many students start filing their taxes this year, there are also things to keep in mind. “[The] IRS gives this warning that they will never call you and they won’t email you unless you already have an established relationship with them,” Ansiaux said. On the website, it’s shown that employers will call taxpayers to set up appointments or discuss audits but first, they will attempt by notifying taxpayers by mail.

Hale said: “The best thing for a college student or first-time person to do a tax return is to get a second set of eyes. Get a professional who has done this before [who] will check all your work.”

Rivera said, “Do not be afraid to ask questions. It’s very important to ask someone who knows about it before being tricked or scammed.”