June 10, 2023

With tax season in full swing, many students must file income taxes by April 15, a process with which many may not be familiar.

Every year, adults who generate an income must file an income tax return to determine whether they owe any additional taxes to the government or if they qualify for a tax refund.

Karin Nelson, director of the Accounting program and assistant professor of accounting at California Baptist University, said the basic process of filing begins with gathering all necessary financial documents. This consists of primarily W-2 forms.

If people choose not to use an accountant, the Internal Revenue Service website provides access to free software that individuals can use to file their own taxes.

In addition, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program offers free tax help to students and people who make less than $54,000 total annually. With office locations throughout Riverside County, the VITA program consists of certified, trained volunteers who provide free assistance.

Nelson said if a person’s annual income is less than a certain threshold, the individual does not have to file an income tax return. The threshold is determined by one’s status, whether he or she is are single, head of household, married or widowed. For example, a single individual with an annual income less than $10,300 does not have to file a federal tax return.

Those who fall under the category and have had taxes deducted from their paychecks should file a tax return and get a refund for the taxes.

Kassandra Torres, junior accounting major, is currently in the process of becoming certified to help those needing VITA’s services.

“I had my tax class this past fall, so I had a decent understanding of various laws and process of filing,” Torres said.

Torres said although it can be challenging to set aside time to file taxes, it is not as dreadful of a task as people assume.

“If you use a free tax prep website it walks you through step-by-step and e-files your return for you,” Torres said. “Especially as a student, it’s almost easier to file because there isn’t as much going on, compared to someone who runs his or her own business, has a lot of investments or has a house payment.”

Nelson said people should take the time to learn about filing taxes.

“Students need to be responsible and it’s a great time to learn how to do taxes,” Nelson said. “It’s great to learn and not hand it over to your parents or someone else. It’s a good life skill.”

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