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CPA helps students prepare for filing taxes

Pacer Writer

Published: Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Updated: Monday, February 25, 2013 01:02

It’s that time of year again: tax time. Filing taxes by the April 15 deadline can feel like another pile of homework has just fallen into your lap and unless you are a hot shot accounting major with a minor in finance, often times the whole process can be a bit confusing.  

Unfortunately you can’t skip out on this assignment, and your grade here isn’t A’s or B’s; it’s your hard earned money. Here are a few tax time tips from Mr. David Hart, CPA at Alexander Thompson Arnold PLLC in Martin, Tenn.

1. Communicate with your parents/guardians. It’s important to coordinate and understand who is paying what. If your parents pay more than 50 percent of your expenses, then they can list you as a dependent. Often times your parents will have a larger refund by claiming you than you would have on your own.

2. Get it done early. Procrastination is common in most college students and shouldn’t be used in this circumstance. Go ahead and collect your W-2s and 1098s and start now. “Every year, I’ll have 5 to 10 college students running into my office trying to get their taxes finished a day before the April deadline,” Hart said. There are almost 2 full months before the April 15 deadline, which is plenty of time to get them done.

3.  If anything looks out of the ordinary, get help. Although do-it-yourself online programs are a great asset, it’s best to have an accountant look over your finances if anything looks abnormal.  “[Tax software] is a great asset, and I encourage new college students to use it to gain that experience, but in situations when stocks or family savings bonds are involved, I would suggest getting an expert,” Hart said.

4. Take an interest in your finances. “Learn the basics. Understanding how the process works will be helpful later on in life. It won’t be any easier to learn later on down the road,” Hart said. It’s advantageous to be personally aware of your money on a larger scale. Learning to manage your budget and keeping up with your assets are keys to success at tax time not just this year but also in the years to come.

5. Stay current. Tax laws are constantly changing, and it’s wise to stay informed. New government changes like the Affordable Healthcare Act will have major effects on

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