5 things you should know if you’re filing taxes for the first time

Tax season is now well underway. Have you started yet?

If you grew up watching your parents get stressed around tax season, then you’re probably not looking forward to filing yourself for the first time.

There are a million questions that run through your head that you might just ... not know the answers to: How much do I owe? Will I get money back from the government? Do my parents still claim me as a dependent? What is a W-2?

Well, don’t worry, because we are here to make your first time filing taxes just a little easier by giving you some tips.

1. Prepare and start early

This piece of advice won’t teach you how to do your taxes, but it’s a helpful reminder that the sooner you start getting your papers together, the easier it will be once you decide to file. Remember, you have until April 18.

You can also prepare by getting advice from adults who have done this many times, like your parents or a tax professional.

2. Find out if you are still a dependent on your parents’ tax return

Knowing your status on whether your parents claim you or not will determine how you file your taxes this year. According to NerdWallet.com, dependents cannot claim any exemptions when filing their own taxes, even if their parents do not claim them. Most college-aged students fall into the dependent category, so they cannot claim their own exemption.

3. Don’t pay to file your taxes if you don’t have to

Being a young person has lots of advantages, and not paying to file is one of them. As long as your annual household income isn’t more than $73,000, you are eligible for the IRS’s File Free program.

Nothing wrong with saving a few extra bucks, right?

4. Look out for scams!

This is a pretty good thing to keep in mind whenever you get a suspicious call asking about money -- but during tax season, scammers are out for blood. Finding out that your taxes have already been filed by someone pretending to be you when you go to do them yourself is not a thing you'll want to have happen.

5. And don’t forget to sign and date your tax return

NerdWallet.com says that forgetting to sign and date your tax returns is one of the most common mistakes that new people make when filing for the first time. Doing your taxes online with sites like TurboTax.com helps eliminate these silly mistakes.

Any suggestions we missed? If you’re an older reader, any advice to pass along?

This story was first published in 2019. It has since been updated.

About the Author:

Jack is a Digital Content Editor with a degree in creative writing and French from Western Michigan University. He specializes in writing about movies, food and the latest TV shows.