Advice for those filling taxes for the first time

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We learned a lot in school: how to multiply and divide, how to write a five-paragraph essay.  We learned how to take tests and succeed, but school didn't teach us how to do taxes for the first time.

David Sant, VP of Marketing at Cyprus Credit Union, says there are things you can do to make the whole process a little less intimidating.

First, find out if you need to file.  If you are under 65 years old, single and your gross income is less than $10,000, you might not need to file your taxes.  This is the likely scenario for many students who are working part time and making minimum wage.  Sant recommends speaking with a tax professional to see if you should file or not.  It's always best to ask.

Second, obtain your W-2 form.  Your W-2 is your proof of employment for the past year.  If you have worked multiple jobs, you should receive one from each employer.  The form includes the name and address of the employer, your wages and how much of your salary was withheld for taxes.

Third, check with your parents.  If you are claimed as a dependent, you can't claim a personal exemption on your own return.  Sit down with all of your forms and determine what would be the smartest way for everyone to file.  In order to qualify as a dependent, you must be under the age of 19, unless you are a full-time student, in which case you can be claimed until the age of 24.

Fourth, plan ahead.   You want to have as much time as possible to make sure everything on your filing is correct.  Planning ahead will help to eliminate the stress of trying to finish everything at the last minute.

Fifth, prep and file for free.  Depending on your household income, you might be able to prepare and file your taxes for free.  Speak to a tax professional to see if you qualify for this service.

Finally, as a professional.  Taxes can be daunting and stressful, but you don't have to do this alone.  You can always reach out to a tax professional to answer your questions.

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