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Basic Tax for Beginners

February 7, 2020

When it comes to taxes there is so much that is misunderstood between write-offs, credits, deductions and exemptions. So what does a college student need to know? Well, first off, you are only required to file taxes if you are making more than $10,350 in gross income a year, in Idaho. And, if you're required to file a federal income tax return, you must file an Idaho return. However, if you're filing a federal income tax return only to pay self-employment tax and aren't otherwise required to file a federal income tax return, then you aren't required to file an Idaho income tax return. Or, you can always just file taxes for the tax refund we all love so much. If you don’t file taxes and you are over this dollar amount there is a chance for penalties and fees from the IRS, so for me, it’s always better to be on the safe side.

When filing your taxes all you need to bring is a social security card, 1098T tuition statement- which you can get from the cashier's office at your university, any 1099’s received (Interest income, Dividend income, self-employment income) and your W-2’s from all your places of employment. This information is essential to filing your taxes because it includes the amount of money made and how much school cost you and the potential credit that you can get from going to school. However, tuition isn’t the only thing you can get a credit for, college students can also use the cost of their books and even laptops to maximize their education credit which can save you extra money! I think we can all agree how much we love to save money!  

Idaho State University offers a program called- Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA), where college students studying to go into accounting can get some real-world experience filing taxes for anyone making less than $52,000 a year. This program isn’t only open to students but also people in the community. Students volunteering with the program are usually a junior or senior in the program or even graduate students and have to undergo three different tests: standard conduct, an intake & interview test and lastly, a bigger exam that tests students on their basic tax law knowledge. The first two are taught after hours and the third is in a classroom setting. The supervisor of the program and accounting professor at the ISU College of Business, Dawn Konicek, has been doing tax accounting since 1991. She says, “VITA helps people in the community get their taxes done for free as well as helps students get experience.” VITA takes place on Thursdays from 5:00 - 9:00 pm in the Rendezvous room 213. 

If taxes or accounting sounds like something you might be interested in, the Idaho State University College of Business has a renowned reputation for its accounting program. Internationally accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) , College is one of only 189 business schools worldwide to hold accreditation in both accounting and business . Students studying in the accounting program at ISU are also highly likely to pass the Certified Public Accountants (CPA) due to the unique structure of the graduate courses, which revolve around the four parts of the exam.  Students studying in the program take some tax classes where they learn technicalities along with the rules and laws of tax. In addition to the undergraduate program, ISU also offers a Master of Accountancy degree. According to Konicek, if you are interested in accounting, the best traits to have are to be detail oriented and patient.

Those interested in getting help filing their taxes, are encouraged to participate in VITA any Thursday evening from January 30 to March 19. Or, visit a College of Business advisor if you are interested in becoming an accountant.