What Teens Should Know About Filing Their Taxes

A man and his son looking at each other as they discuss the documents they have in hand and on the desk in front of them.

As parents, preparing our teens for financial responsibility is crucial. One important aspect teens must know before filing their taxes is how to effectively navigate the tax system. Relay these key points to guide your teen through their first tax-filing experience.

Understanding Income Sources

Teens working through the early college years need to know which types of income they must report to the IRS. They will need to consider wages from part-time jobs, freelance gigs, and even certain scholarships. Understanding what counts as taxable income helps them avoid errors and ensures accurate reporting. Help them understand the importance of keeping track of all income sources throughout the year.

The Importance of W-2 and 1099 Forms

When tax season arrives, your teen will receive W-2 forms from employers and possibly 1099 forms if they did freelance work. These documents summarize their earnings and any taxes already withheld. Make sure your teen keeps these forms in a safe place, as they are essential for accurate tax filing. Missing or lost forms can lead to filing delays and complications.

Utilizing Tax Software

Using tax software can simplify the filing process for teens. These programs guide users step-by-step through the process, reducing the chances of them making common tax filing mistakes. Many tax software options offer free versions for individuals with simple tax situations, making tax form completion more accessible for teens. Encourage your teen to explore these tools to make filing easier and less intimidating.

Knowing Deductions and Credits

Teens should familiarize themselves with potential deductions and credits. For example, if your teen paid for college expenses, they might qualify for education-related tax credits. Understanding these opportunities can reduce their taxable income and possibly increase their refund. Encourage your teen to keep receipts and records of any potential deductible expenses throughout the year.

Preparing your teen for tax season involves teaching them essential information about income reporting, necessary forms, tax software, and possible deductions. These are critical aspects teens must know before filing their taxes for the first time. By understanding these elements, your teen can confidently and accurately file their taxes. Equip your teen with this knowledge, and they’ll feel prepared for financial independence.

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