What college students need to know about taxes

By Walker Polivka, Contributing Writer 

Brace yourselves readers. It’s that chaotic time of year again: tax season. Tax season can be a daunting task and if you have never done it before, it can seem very confusing. However, here is some help to guide you through it.

Being able to do your taxes is a basic adult task that helps your overall financial health. However, many college students are not eligible to file for themselves.

Michael Blackwell, Director of the Undergraduate Business Program at West Liberty and a Certified Public Accountant, said, “Although every situation is different, most full-time students under the age of 24 cannot claim themselves. Their parents can most likely still take the deduction.” If your parents do claim you on the tax returns, be sure to share important information with them.

“You should be able to share any information regarding tuition, student loans, textbooks, course fees, etc. with your parents. In certain circumstances, they may use them to lower their tax bill,” Blackwell said.

For students who are worried about their scholarships being taxed, you do not need to worry. “Most scholarships are not taxable. However, once you graduate and start paying back your loans, the interest on the loans is often tax-deductible,” Blackwell said.

Many people can do their own taxes, but it is recommended to use a professional. Blackwell said, “Because of the complexity of the tax code, I strongly recommend using a paid professional tax preparer. If there are any complications in your return, be sure to use a Certified Public Accountant. CPA’s have the most required training and experience in the tax industry. An experienced professional can often spot any obvious errors.”

For those who are visual learners, there are places in the area to help you with issues you may have.

“I particularly like the VITA (Volunteer Income Taxes Assistance) Program. Although it is a national program, the closest location is the Ohio County Library. VITA will prepare basic tax returns and answer basic tax questions for free,” Blackwell said.

Other options you can utilize is by going to the Wheeling IRS branch office, which is located at 1100 Main Street. You can go to their office and ask them questions regarding your taxes.

You can file your taxes online through reputable sites like Turbo Tax, H & R Block, and Tax Act. You can even go to your nearest H&R Block and get your taxes filed in person.
For any major questions regarding taxes, be sure to visit the IRS website. You can also reach out to Michael Blackwell at [email protected]

Original Artwork by Mimi Albon