University offers assistance for students filing taxes

Students have less than one week to file taxes – April 15 is the last day to file Alabama State Income Tax Returns and the last day to file for automatic extensions.

Students who receive scholarships and don’t use them toward their tuition and fees could possibly be taxed on that money as a type of income, said accounting professor Todd DeZoort. He said filing taxes is an important topic for students to be aware of.

“First and foremost, filing federal and state income tax returns is a legal requirement for many students, and the consequences of not filing can be severe,” DeZoort said. “The issues that can trigger the filing requirement include working and earning income, having unearned income from interest and/or dividends or receiving scholarship money for school.”

Currently, there are programs on The University of Alabama’s campus to help students with all of their financial inquiries. As a part of the Healthy Campus Initiative, the UA Office for Student Financial Success provides education to equip students with the financial knowledge needed.

Finance and accounting professor Tom Downs said there are advantages for students filing their own taxes.

“Advantages of filing one's own taxes are especially big when the chore is simple. Young households often have too few taxable income sources and some too few tax deductions,” he said. “Filing a simple tax return, even one with several schedules, is a chore that learned once repays each year when unchanged tax life means redoing the same schedules with different numbers. When situations and the tax life are complex, maybe multi-state filings with multiple income sources, then outside help or time on task can find a solution.”

Steve Richardson, a certified public accountant from Steve Richardson & Company, said he has worked with UA students and their taxes before.

“Most of my students are the children of clients, so what I would typically recommend students to do is ask their parents for help with tax returns and so on,” he said. “It's important students understand their finances a good deal more than they do. If they have income and file a tax return, it may be a situation where it’s actually beneficial to them.”

Students can also use methods of online help from websites such as TurboTax or H&R Block. Hayden Arnold, a sophomore majoring in chemical engineering, said he did just that.

“I usually try to get it done as early as possible and I did mine just last week,” he said. “I don’t think it's too difficult, I just used TurboTax.”


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