IRS provides free filing
With tax season in full swing, the Internal Revenue Service announced its ninth year of free online tax preparation services for taxpayers making less than $58,000 a year, which should apply to the majority of the student body.
The IRS partnered with a group of tax software companies to form the Free File Alliance to offer low-to-moderate income taxpayers access to online software.
In an informal survey of the UH student body conducted by the Daily Cougar, 50 percent felt they had a general understanding of federal and state tax laws, with 23 percent stating they would be able to successfully file taxes without help.
Recent architecture graduate Melvalean McLemore looked over her paperwork three times before filing.
“Why did I spend so much money and time on an education, yet I find myself clueless when it comes to the most universal aspect of living in America — paying taxes?” McLemore said.
The Job Creation Act of 2010 installed a number of unemployment aids but also established new tax credits, like the Earned Income Tax Credit and the American Opportunity Tax Credit, both of which are intended to alleviate the burden for working families and students with college tuition.
“The payroll tax cut will benefit any working student who receives wages and thus pays Social Security taxes,” US Treasury Spokewoman Sandra Salstrom said in an e-mail.
The informal survey of 60 UH students found that 75 percent of those surveyed, which included recent graduates, reported that they live on their own and are self-supporting, with 87 percent reporting that they work either full- or part-time.
“Those student workers will see more money in their paychecks this year,” Salstrom said. “As a result of the payroll tax cut, leaving them with more money for day-to-day expenses while the economy continues its recovery.”
The American Opportunity Tax Credit is another tax relief measure that was extended by the year-end tax cut package that benefits students, Salstrom said.
“It provides a tax cut of up to $2,500 a year to pay for the cost of college tuition and other related items such as books,” she said. “It’s available for up to four years of college, providing up to $10,000 per student.”
With the ever-changing tax laws, it can be difficult for even experienced taxpayers to feel confident when preparing this year’s returns.
Of the students surveyed, 78 percent said they would attend a free seminar on filing taxes if offered.
“I just got married six months ago, but my dad still files my taxes for me,” recent graduate Rachael Eckert said. “My husband and I both have degrees, but I guess only accounting majors learn about (taxes).”
For more information on the IRS Free File, visit www.freefilealliance.org.