With the deadline to file taxes closing in the Internal Revenue Service is pleased to assist students and the general public with their returns.
“Make sure that all the paperwork, W-2 forms and other supporting documents are handy,” said Steven Matthews, Portland IRS tax preparer education specialist.Matthews has other advice for students as well. He said most students are qualified for one or the other of two education credits. If you are claimed as a dependent, your tuition paid would be accredited to your parents or whoever is claiming you. If you are not claimed as a dependent on someone’s return, your tuition paid can be used as a credit on your tax return. Students should get Education Credit Form 8863 from the IRS Web site for more information.
Matthews said the Hope Scholarship credit allows for a maximum of $1,500 for the first two years. Students may get 100 percent of $1,000 paid as tuition for the first year and 50 percent for next $1,000.
Students may also qualify for the Lifetime Learning credit. For this credit, they may deduct 20 percent of the allowable expenses, but no more than the maximum of $1,000 per year.
Matthews said everyone automatically qualifies for the standard deduction. The value of the standard deduction depends on the individual. A dependent student’s deduction is the greater of $700 or your earned income plus $250. Independents are entitled to deduct $4,400. However, most students will not be qualified for what is called itemized deductions, which include expenses such as medical bills, mortgage interest, state or local income taxes or charity.
Students who took out a student loan and paid interest can qualify for a student loan interest deduction. They may be able to deduct up to $2,000 on qualified student loan interests paid during the first 60 months. Students should use the statement from where the loan is made to calculate their amount of deduction, whether the source was federal, state or private.
Students or others who are single, between the ages of 25 to 64, and make less than $10,000 may qualify for the Earned Income Credit.
Depending on the student’s status, they may qualify for other credits as well. “Do returns as soon as possilbe, double check the math – errors are mostly from math problems – and follow instructions. They’ll (Students) do fine,” Matthews said.
Matthews advised those who need assistant to call the IRS hotline at (800) 829-1010 or one of the volunteer sites at (888) AARP-NOW.
Tax filers can also walk in to get assistance. The Portland IRS office, located on 1220 S.W. Third, is offering free tax help through April 16, the deadline to file taxes.
This Saturday the walk-in hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and Saturday, April 14 from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, the office hours are from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
According to Anne Christensen, a professor at the School of Business, some helpful information to students can be found in Publication 4 “Student Tax Guide,” Publication 520 “Scholarships and Fellowships,” and Publication 970 “Tax Benefits for Higher Education.” These free publications can be found on the IRS Web page at www.irs.gov.
A reminder – don’t forget to file state taxes too.