Yesterday afternoon one of my students said, “Mr. Byrne, how do you do taxes?” It was one of those questions and moments that embodies the idea that we teach students first and content area second. I was happy to explain to her that her employer (Walmart in this case) would be giving her a W-2 and that she’d have to fill-out and send a 1040 to the IRS. That led to more questions about getting the forms and questions about our state income taxes. By the end I had a sample 1040 and sample W-2 on my whiteboard and was walking her through the completion of the forms.
I’m sure that there many high school students like mine who are also wondering if they need to file a tax return and how to do it. If you have high school students ask you questions about filing tax returns, here are some helpful resources to consider sharing with them.
Your Local Public Library
In non-pandemic times, my local public library and many others around the United States have hosted volunteers to help people like my student file their federal and state income tax forms for the first time. Check with your local public library to see if and when they’re hosting volunteers to help students file tax forms.
Free File Alliance
The Free File Alliance is a public-private partnership of the IRS and leading tax preparation/ online accounting services that provides free federal tax return filing to those who have an adjusted gross income of less than $72,000. More information including how to get started is available here on the IRS’ website.
This video from Practical Personal Finance offers clear guidance on the whole process of gathering the information needed to file a tax return and then completing the proper forms.