Filing your taxes: an art to learn

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Tyler Wooley

Contributor

The April 15 deadline to file taxes is right around the corner, and some students may not know exactly what to do.

There are two ways to send your taxes to the Internal Revenue Service: electronically and by mail.

Both of these methods have positive and negative aspects.

With the timing being so close to the deadline, many students are thinking about filing electronically.

Submitting your taxes electronically has benefits that include accuracy, efficiency and safety.

Amber Robinson, a junior English education major from Clio, has filed her taxes before. She prefers filing them electronically.

“I did the e-filing, and it was really easy,” Robinson said.

Robinson said she was surprised at how long she waited to get her refund, though.

“I filed at the beginning of February and didn’t get my refund until March,” she said.

Electronically submitting taxes means the IRS does not have to retype your information, so there is less chance for error and it takes less time.

Most of the time, e-filing is also faster than filing by mail.

According to the TurboTax website, filing electronically and selecting a direct deposit into a bank account is the fastest way to receive your refund.

Safety is an important concern for many people because these documents contain personal information.

The IRS website says that filing electronically and depositing a refund directly into a bank account or prepaid debit card avoids the possibility of information or a check being stolen.

Once your taxes are submitted to the IRS, you also receive a confirmation or rejection notice within 24 hours. This assists you if there are any problems with your forms, and can tell you how to fix them.

Many websites that prepare taxes have also become more user-friendly in recent years. This means it should be easier than it has ever been to file electronically.

Filing your taxes by mail (either by yourself, or by using a preparer) has some ups and downs, also.

Paper filing can be slower, sometimes taking up to eight weeks.

This is not the case for everybody, however.

Cole Grant, a freshman nursing major from Andalusia, said he received his refund in about a week.

This is the first year Grant has had to file taxes. Instead of filing electronically, he used a company.

“I got mine done at the same place my parents get theirs done,” Grant said.

“I just handed them my stuff and it was basically done,” Grant said, commenting on how easy it was to let someone else deal with his taxes.

The deadline for filing and paying taxes that you owe is April 15 unless you get an extension.

It is important to file taxes on time to avoid a late penalty.

There is a failure-to-file penalty and a failure-to-pay penalty, according to the IRS website.

According to the website, filing your taxes late will usually earn you a penalty of 5 percent of unpaid taxes for each month or part of a month your return is late. The penalty will not exceed 25 percent of unpaid taxes.

The failure-to-pay penalty is usually much lower, 0.5 percent.

If you can do your own taxes, kudos to you.

If you need a little help, that’s fine, since there is plenty of it available.

Just make sure you file, double check the numbers and avoid a late penalty.

Last year I got married and moved, two changes in my life that had an effect on my tax return this year.

I filed my taxes using TaxACT online and paid $12.99 for my federal return and $7 for my first state return. Subsequent state returns are $14.99 each.

I use this website because I created an account and can use information from previous returns on the present return.

Most of the work required in doing my taxes now is double-checking personal information and inputting financial information directly from my W-2 form.

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