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File Your W-2 With Confidence

The anxiety is kicking in; it’s tax season. You finally have received your W-2 form from the previous work year, but you’re stuck. As a first-time filer, several thoughts can follow you during this process. What do I do next? Which is the fastest and most reliable way for me to receive my tax return if I receive any money at all? 

Overall, filing your W-2 may sound like an exasperated downtime duty, but it’s much easier than you might think.

Let’s keep it brief: If you understand how to navigate Google and working WiFi, you already have the upper hand for filing your W-2 faster than ever. 

“Filing your W-2 has become much easier over the years with the help of e-filing,” PLNU’s Associate Professor of Accounting Steve Cosentino said. According to your federal tax filing options, “Websites like TurboTax and H&R Block guide you step-by-step through the process for free,” the professor said. 

Not only do these tax preparing software guide you through which tax solution is best according to your finances, but allows many students to file as simply and efficiently as possible. 

The process has become seemingly painless with the help of technology, but there are still mistakes to be made. 

“Losing or not keeping your paperwork throughout the year in order to file your returns is a simple, but common mistake,” said PLNU senior and President of PLNU’s Student Accounting Society Marisa Lawrence. 

Not only does this loss make it harder to file, but it also makes it harder to double-check the information on your forms that may be incorrect. This can include the spelling of your name, social security number, mailing address or the income and withholding that is being reported. 

Lawrence also agrees that filing through websites like TurboTax is the most effective way for students to file their W-2 for free. “The sooner you file after receiving your W-2, the earlier you receive your return,” she said. 

The San Diego non-profit organization, Dreams for Change, also provides a program that offers free tax return preparation for those with minimal income. 

“The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers free tax help to people who generally make $56,000 or less,” according to the program’s LinkedIn page. “Through this program IRS-certified volunteers provide free income tax return preparation. Our goal is to help taxpayers claim any credits they may be eligible for by completing 10,000 returns this upcoming year.”

Through their mall, office and mobile locations, the program has prepared over 8,200 free tax returns and brought $14 million in refunds back into the San Diego communities just in 2019 according to their website. 

Lawrence also said students should be aware of whether their parents are claiming them as dependents while filing as well. 

“Your parents might be putting your 1098-T (scholarship and tuition statement) on their return. They also might be claiming certain education credits that you otherwise would be able to claim,” Lawrence said. “It can also affect your standard deduction if you made under a certain amount of income. Finally, you have to check off a box on your return saying they are claiming you.”

Regardless of how you choose to file this year, the filing deadline for your 2019 personal tax returns is April 15, 2020.