Don’t let tax season tax your patience

Tara Pringle

W-2s. 1040EZ. IRS.

When students see these words, they know it’s tax season. And the April 15 deadline looms.

Students with limited incomes may wonder if they even need to file taxes.

David Sietman, a tax consultant at Ashcraft-Sietman Tax Service in Kent, said single, independent students who make less than $7,950 a year don’t need to file taxes. Dependent students who make less than $4,850 are not required to file.

Dependent students are students whose parents pay 50 percent of their expenses. Independent students pay for the majority of their expenses. Sietman said students should file even if they don’t need to.

“If either federal or state taxes were taken out of your check, file to get it back,” Sietman said.

“Students should really start thinking about filing their taxes around the first week of February,” he said. “All documents should have been mailed out.”

“Free e-file is really a good benefit for students,” he said. In addition to being free, Sietman said people get acknowledgments of their returns faster.

“Always print a copy, so you know what you told the government,” Sietman said.

Sietman said students may be able to do their taxes themselves if their return isn’t too difficult.

“If you only have one W-2, it’s not economical (to go to a professional). They might pay more than they get back.”

With regards to filing late, Sietman said tax returns have to be postmarked, not necessarily received, by April 15.

“As long as you don’t make it a habit, they’ll usually just process your return,” he said.

However, Sietman warned students that the penalties for late city tax returns are strict.

“City tax returns are due April 15,” Sietman said. “No exceptions. There’s a penalty even if you don’t owe.”

George Noble, district manager for H & R Block, agreed that it is very important for students to file their city taxes.

“City taxes are the ones people overlook,” Noble said. “There’s a minimum $25 fee if you file late. The amount goes up every year.”

Some people run into problems if they lose or misplace their W-2. Sietman said a common misconception is that people can use their last pay stub as a substitute.

“Don’t use the last pay stub,” he said. “That’s something I would never do.”

Sietman said an employer might make adjustments between the last pay stub and the W-2 students receive.

Instead Sietman said for students to call their employer, who can usually give them more copies of their W-2.

Kristin Urycki, junior middle childhood education major, said she prepared her taxes in February using the electronic filing option.

“I file mine as soon as the forms come in,” Urycki said. “It’s quicker and easier. I always get my money within two weeks of sending it.”

Rachel Marshall, freshman nursing major, said her mom prepared her taxes.

“I never hear anyone talking about doing their taxes,” Marshall said. “I have no idea, either. I just know they need to be done by the deadline.”

Many tax-preparation services are preparing for the people who file late.

“We’re beefing up our staff for the end-of-season rush,” Noble said. “We try to make sure clients wait no more than 15 minutes. We’ve been doing this for a long time. We know how it gets.”

Student can pick up tax forms at the Kent State library, the Kent Free library or at the Post Office. To file electronically, go to the IRS Web site at

Contact enterprise reporter Tara Pringle at [email protected].