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Tax filing made easy for students

It’s that time of year again- love is in the air and romance is abound during…you guessed it, tax season! Many adults moan and groan when they think of this, but for us college students, it should be a smooth and quick process.

A big misconception about taxes is that they are costly to file and it takes an accountant or a place like Liberty Tax to complete them. This idea couldn’t be farther from the truth. For a majority of college students with one or two part time jobs, filing your taxes couldn’t be easier—but it could be very dangerous. Your W-2 form has most of your personal information including your social security number. Since most W-2s are given as a hard copy to employees, it is important that you keep yours safe until you file your taxes. This can be difficult with multiple jobs. So the first tip is to try and file as soon as you get all of your W-2s.

Another useful tip is to always be aware of your online security. Keep your firewalls and anti-virus software up to date, especially if you use websites like TurboTax to file your taxes online. Just think what could happen if someone could access all the forms you’ve entered online. Not only could they steal your identity but they could put you at risk for tax evasion or worse if they were to alter your tax information. If you want to go the extra mile, you can even save your completed tax return to a flash drive or disc and then delete the information from your computer.

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So now that you know how to do it safely, filing your Federal and State returns should be simple. I use TurboTax free edition and it takes about 20 minutes- and that’s with four W-2s to handle. For the state return for Georgia, you can either pay a website like TurboTax about $25 to do it, or you could go and fill out the 500EZ form, print it out, and send it in the mail. This option is essentially free, but I find it much more convenient to just let the online tax software file both Federal and State together. Another thing to note is that since at our age, taxes are so simple, there is no reason to pay a dime for filing federal taxes! The free versions of software out there do more than enough for the small amount of deductions you can take.  One last important tip though- if you choose to pay for an online service, do not let them deduct the price out of your tax refund. There is a $30 fee in most states for doing this, compared to no fee for just paying with your credit card! Hopefully by following these tips you can be safer during this time and protect your identity.