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Student Income Tax Return Guide

Important: Starting with Tax Year 2018 (Jan. - Dec. 2018), student related education tax credits, deductions, and savings plans are changing due to recent Tax Reform. We are updating this page as the facts become available. Tax Reform and you? Let help you and become eligible to Tax Win. Find out now.

Student Tax Return Preparation Guide 101

This guide applies not only to students, but all taxpayers who need to (or want to) file a tax return:

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Gather records, forms, and receipts throughout the Tax Year based on your income and expenses.
Find previous year tax returns, school/university/college registration documents, W-2/1099/1098-T forms, receipts for textbooks, and college savings plan documents.
Don't wait until the end of the Tax Year to assess your taxes. Plan in July and before the end of the year, December 31st.
Assess your tax withholdings throughout the year and factor in all your income (W-2, 1099, etc.).
Consider retirement plan options and contributions. It's never too early for that.
Know the expenses you can and cannot deduct on your tax return. 
Find out if you actually have to file an income tax return.
Should you file yourself or as someone's dependent on your tax return?
Find out if you qualify as a dependent on someone's return.
Are you a single student with a child or dependent?
See if you qualify for the Head of Household filing status.
Even you DON'T HAVE TO file a return, you still might WANT TO file a return for other reasons.
Estimate your tax refund or taxes owed before you start filing or e-filing your tax return.
Don't file before Jan. 31 for the previous Tax Year because you might miss a form (all forms are required to be mailed to you by Jan. 31).
Make sure you have all tax forms (e.g. W-2, 1099, 1098-T, 1098, etc.) before you e-file.
Even if you can't pay for the taxes you might owe, you should either file a tax return or an extension by the due date (usually April 15). The not filing penalty is higher than the not paying penalty.
Review and IRS tax payments options on how to pay you taxes.

State Income Taxes

Review this guide if you need to (or want to) file a state tax return: 

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All the points listed above apply more or less to your state income taxes as well.

After Your Tax Return Has Been Submitted, Mailed, or e-filed

Find out what to do after you submit your tax return: 

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After you have e-filed your return, monitor your emails, check your account, and/or your tax refund status.
Make sure your tax refund will be directly deposited into your account or mailed to the address on your tax return.
Download your completed tax return from your account (under My Account) and keep it for your records. If you did not file your return on (or even if you did), you may obtain a free transcript of your return from the IRS.
Click here if you prepared and efiled via
Get an IRS tax return transcript regardless where you prepared and filed.
Need to make a change to an efiled or filed return? You will need to complete and file an amended tax return.
Know what to do in case you get audited.

If all of this is overwhelming for you, simply create a free account on and start the tax interview process by answering simple questions. We make it easy for you so you don't have to worry about too many of the sometimes complicated tax law details. You can monitor your preliminary federal or IRS and state tax return as you go through the process. Before you actually efile your tax return, make sure you check for errors and overall results or contact one of our Taxperts if you have questions.