A Taxing Attempt at Filing Taxes

Totally true.
Totally true.

College students everywhere are scrambling to finish filing their taxes. If you haven’t started, then hop on the struggle bus, because the deadline is April 15. While we wish we could say that it’s a painless task, if it’s your first (or even second or third) time filing without your parents, it might go a bit more like this.

1. You resist getting Turbotax and laugh at the idea that you, a Harvard student, wouldn’t be able to do your own taxes. Of course you can!

2. You go online and look up “how to” guides. Then you realize that the IRS loves naming documents with numbers. Sigh.

3. Your eyes grow wide and tear up when you find out that taxpayers with incomes of $58,000 or less are eligible to file tax returns for free through the Free File Alliance. Whew, that was close—no pesky filing fees. Then you remember that as a student you might have additional tax forms that you can use to apply certain credits, like student loans.

4. As Turbotax says, “the more you learn about the tax system, the less stress you'll feel when filing your first tax forms.” Basically, doing your taxes becomes a fifth or sixth class. Oh, joy.

5. You procrastinate filling it out. You started out with good intentions, trying to find time between midterms and papers, but despite your best efforts these quickly engulfed your life.

6. You get credit for trying, right? Like a $100 deduction? Maybe?

7. You realize that you’re missing some documents. You panic and call all the people who might be able to help—your parents, their tax attorney, hey, let’s give the IRS office a crack! They can’t all be awful, right?

8. You seriously consider hiring someone to quickly do this for you. You cry because you can’t afford to.

9. You curse the heavens that you didn’t attend that tax workshop in the beginning of the semester.

By Wikimedia Commons

10. Do you really have to file these? Would they ever know? It could just be your little secret with the IRS. But then again, you don’t want to be dragged away and jailed for evading taxes, like these ancient Egyptians.

11. Miraculously, you finish with one day to spare. You knew you could do it. You think, "that was easy"—what were you so worried about?

12. Making it to the post office takes far more motivation and patience than you realized. Struggles.

12. Reflecting, you realize that this is just the beginning—as your finances get more complicated, doing your taxes turns into the mathematical equivalent of a yearly root canal. You’re in for the long haul.

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