The Point of A Return

The Federal Income Tax Filing Deadline is April 18

Erika Carlson, Features Reporter

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Photos by Thrisha Reddy

Briana Yates learned the price of payroll taxes.

Kyron Jenkins has received his tax refund.

By Erika Carlson

Senior Briana Yates (’17) got hired for her first job at Panera Bread toward the end of last year. When Yates, who works as a cashier and waitress, received her first paycheck, she was ecstatic.

That was a pre-tax ecstasy.

Yates wasn’t aware of how much money would be eaten away by taxes or how much money she could get back.

“I make $500 every other week, after tax is taken out,” Yates said. “It’s supposed to be around $620.”

The federal and state governments take away money from students who work part-time jobs in high school. These students perform the same tasks as other workers. So why is it that they are not given back equal pay at the end of the year? The real question should be, “Why aren’t more students aware of the cash they are fully capable of reclaiming?” Along with their scheduled classes, more students are enrolling in their own self-taught versions of Tax Refund 101. For the rest of us, here is a crash course.

Many times, when a student finds a decrease in their paycheck they could become confounded with what exactly is occurring.

“The more you make, the more they take,” Yates said. “You have to do the tax return to get the money back.”

The “money” Yates is referring to is cash withheld by the employer at the student’s workplace in the case that he/she does not owe any taxes. In this case, the student worker should file a tax return. This process is not done separately, but with a parent or guardian. It is a process that should be begin sooner than later.

The federal income tax deadline is on April 18, 2017 which is the last date when the students can retrieve money rightfully owed. This allows you to receive a refund of the money withheld from your paycheck, and although you are still under the roof of your caretakers, that does not mean you are incapable of receiving claims.

Another student-worker, Kyron Jenkins (’18), said that he had already filed his tax return after working for Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) for four months.

“I got fifty dollars back,” Jenkins said, “Lunch money.”

Even if you feel that the amount of money you are making is too little or won’t result in a large refund, it is still a wise to file a tax return.

Professional tax preparer, Suzan Ali, told The Prowl that “working students who are dependents can file tax individual returns to get back federal and state income tax paid in excess of their tax due.”  Ali said the only amounts of money you can get are from the Form W2, when referring to Box 2 (federal withholding) and Box 16 (state withholding).

“The amounts withheld from your paycheck for Medicare and Social Security are never going to result in a refund. The dependent student must check ‘someone can claim me as a dependent’ on the student’s individual federal and state income tax return.” Ali said. She suggested to “prepare the tax returns as a Single person.”

The common student is “exempt” on the Form W-4. For claiming exempt on this, write ‘exempt’ on the form, and present all the taxes you paid in the prior year which was refunded to you. Normally, for this to be accepted, a student would need to not have any tax liability in the prior year and expect none withholding from the current year. “If another person can claim you as a dependent on his or her tax return, you can’t claim exemption from withholding if your total income exceeds $1,050 and includes more than $350 of unearned income.” This statement is noted on the actual W-4 form for 2017 in order for accomplishing the requirements. After completion of this form, you must apply for financial aid, then pay for the taxes you owe.

After all files are finalized, keep your records for three years after the return, since the IRS may select your return for a review up to three years after it was filed. There also is the possibility that a new tax break may be introduced retroactively, and you may need documentation to claim it.

Right now, in the process of young adulthood, it is a good time to begin keeping track of important information and to take responsibility for your work.     

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