How to file your taxes


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Clara Oesterling, Student Life editor

According to the most recent U.S. census, one in four high school students work. That means one in four high school students should be filing their taxes to get a return, but it’s not easy. It’s hard. It’s complicated. It’s a huge pain in the butt, and no one really ever teaches you.

I did mine in January for the first time ever, and I would’ve had no clue what I was doing if it wasn’t for major help from my brother, my dad and, of course, the internet.  This can be such a hectic task for beginners, so this guide is going to be served as a resource for first-time filers.

There is a word bank towards the bottom you can refer to for any words you may not know.


Step 1: Collect all of your income information. This includes any W-2s from previous years. Your employer should have given you this at the start of the year, however, if you have not received this, you can submit a request for yours from the IRS. The form is number 4852, and can be found on their website.

Step 2: Take note of any deductions and exemptions. For example, this may include any donations you’ve made to charities. You will need to insert this when you file.

Step 3: Pick a reliable website to file through. Some common ones include Turbo Tax (, H&R Block ( and E-File ( These three sources are free, secure and popular among those who file their taxes on the internet.

Step 4: Sign up through a tax company, and write down your login information. You will need to access this for years to follow. These three sites will walk you through what to fill out. You’ll need to set aside at least 45 minutes to do this.

Step 5: When you are completely finished, print off all documents. You are required to keep all records for up to three years, according to the IRS’ website, in case you are audited.

I suggest using H&R Block as that is what I used with no difficulties. Questions about healthcare may come up, in which you will need to ask your parent or guardian if you are unsure. If you do experience any difficulties or have any questions, you should always ask just to be sure to avoid being audited. I suggest first asking a parent, and if they’re unavailable, a trusted adult.

Keep in mind, the last day to file taxes is Tuesday, April 17. Good luck!


Dependent- n. Someone who relies on another person for financial support

Audit- v. when the IRS flags you and thoroughly inspects your returns, usually because of a mistake

Deduction- n. These lower a person’s taxable income (ex: charity donations). People get this money back in their returns

Tax evasion- v. failure to pay taxes have consequences such as hefty fines and even jail time

IRS- n. Short for Internal Revenue Service. They are a federal agency that collect taxes.

Salary- n. Amount of money paid to employee at end of term. Often expressed as the annual sum.

Net income- n. Salary after taxes

Gross income- n. Salary before taxes

W-2 form- n. A paper employees receive from their employer stating how much he or she earned and how much money was withheld from them that year. It should be issued to workers a month after the year ended, by the end of January in the new year.

W-4 form- n. A paper employees fill out when they start working at a new job. The information tells the employer how much to withhold from his or her pay.