Student Tax Outlook


Jack Berens, Co-editor

High school students have notoriously short attention spans.  Teachers ensure that their lessons are often as concise as possible in order to hold onto the ever-fleeting focus of high schoolers.  With that background, I’m sure not many things cause teenagers’ eyes to glaze over quite like the thought of filing taxes.  I understand, and luckily the government and businesses do too.  TurboTax is a free service that has an “AbsoluteZero” basic package that allows high school students like myself to file taxes easily and able to keep all of my federal refunds.

To begin, let me specify that technically if you made over several hundred dollars in the past year, you are legally obligated to file taxes to both the state and the federal government.  I am not tax expert, so this is just my understanding of the system.  However, if you made money from cash transactions (dog walking, tutoring, babysitting, etc.), many people don’t report this income to the IRS or state.  Should you legally do so?  To my knowledge, yes.  But just so you know, no one will bat an eye if you don’t (which I’ve heard from every adult I’ve talked to).

If you earned a paycheck from your job over the past year, I recommend that you download and use the Intuit TurboTax app after you’ve received your W-2(s) (tax sheet) from your employer(s) in the mail.  The website also works well, and you can continue on the website after you’ve started on your phone, or vice-versa.  It would be a good thing to have your W-2(s), state ID/license, debit card, and Social Security number handy.  After you’ve finished filing via the easy, user-friendly system, you should save/download/print your tax returns for the future.  You may need them during the college process.

I also recommend downloading the IRS2Go app in order to track your refund.  Your refund should arrive in a few weeks, and you should reasonably expect a couple hundred bucks from it.  I would also presume that you will pay a couple of bucks to the state of Illinois as well.  Good luck!