By Kayla Roberson
Filing taxes can be a daunting process for college students, but a former accountant who is now a teacher, said they must overcome the mindset that the process is intimidating.
“I think the biggest obstacle is just, . . . overcoming kind of that negative connotation that goes along with the word tax,” said Amanda Farmer, who worked as an accountant for 10 years before becoming a senior lecturer at the University of Georgia, “and not being intimidated by it.”
Farmer said that with the right resources the process is actually very simple.
“To be honest, for someone who just has a W-2, that would be like if you just had a normal job where you get a paycheck, the IRS has actually made it super, super simple,” she said.
Ginny Marbut, who studies accounting at UGA, was able to file her taxes on her own for the first time this year. With the help of FreeTaxUSA, an online tax resource, she said she successfully completed the process.
“I kind of just used a free website online and it walked me through it, so I did it by myself,” she said.
The IRS does not require anyone to file taxes unless they make a certain amount of income in a given year. In 2020, the minimum income amount was $12,400 but the number can change from year to year. However, a student should still file even if they don’t meet the minimum requirement. There are benefits from going through the process, both financial and experiential.
Students who pay income tax will most likely receive a refund from the IRS if they choose to file. Marbut said the experience she gained when filing would help her when completing the process in the future.
“I think it’s good to always have the experience because eventually I’m going to have to do them on my own down the road. So, it was good to get the experience,” she said.
Farmer said that students who are unsure about where to begin the process should start with the IRS. There are also websites available such as TurboTax and H&R Block that will file your taxes for you. However, these websites aren’t always free. She also said that most students don’t have any financial complications that would make the process difficult, so the IRS website is the best resource.
“Online I prefer H&R Block if you have some reasons for getting complicated. Otherwise just go to the IRS’s website,” she said.
Some universities have programs that assist students with their taxes if they are still feeling unsure about where to go. UGA’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, or VITA program, is an example of such a program. The College of Family and Consumer Sciences at UGA collaborates with Georgia United Credit Union and the IRS to assist students and other Georgia residents with the tax filing process.
Students who are considering filing their taxes can find additional information about the resources available to them on the IRS’s website at irs.gov.
Kayla Roberson is a journalism student at the University of Georgia.