lifeguards

Six Tips for Students with a Summer Job

School’s out and many students now have a summer job. Some students may not realize they have to pay taxes on their summer income.

 

Here are the six things the IRS wants everyone to know about income earned while working a summer job.

  1. All employees fill out a W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate,  when starting a new job. This form is used by employers to determine the amount of tax that will be withheld from your paycheck. If you have multiple summer jobs you will want to make sure all your employers are withholding an adequate amount of taxes to cover your total income tax liability. To make sure your withholding is correct, use the Withholding Calculator on IRS.gov.
  2. Whether you are working as a waiter or a camp counselor, you may receive tips as part of your summer income. All tip income you receive is taxable income and is therefore subject to federal income tax.
  3. Many students do odd jobs over the summer to make extra cash. Earnings you received from self-employment are subject to income tax. These earnings include income from odd jobs like baby-sitting and lawn mowing.
  4. If you have net earnings of $400 or more from self-employment, you will also have to pay self-employment tax. This tax pays for your benefits under the Social Security system. Social Security and Medicare benefits are available to individuals who are self-employed the same as they are to wage earners who have Social Security tax and Medicare tax withheld from their wages. The self-employment tax is figured on Form 1040, Schedule SE.
  5. Food and lodging allowances paid to ROTC students participating in advanced training are not taxable. However, active duty pay – such as pay received during summer advanced camp – is taxable.
  6. Special rules apply to services you perform as a newspaper carrier or distributor. You are a direct seller and treated as self-employed for federal tax purposes if you meet the following conditions:
  • You are in the business of delivering newspapers.
  • All your pay for these services directly relates to sales rather than to the number of hours worked.
  • You perform the delivery services under a written contract which states that you will not be treated as an employee for federal tax purposes.

Generally, newspaper carriers or distributors under age 18 are not subject to self-employment tax.

e-file taxes from home

Technology Expenses Make the Grade for Qualified Tuition Programs

Taxpayers who purchase computer technology for higher education purposes may be eligible for a special tax break. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 added computer equipment and technology to the list of college expenses that can be paid for by a qualified tuition program, commonly referred to as a 529 plan.

A qualified, nontaxable distribution from a 529 plan during 2009 or 2010 now includes the cost of the purchase of any computer technology, equipment or Internet access and related services. To qualify the beneficiary must use the technology, equipment or services while enrolled at an eligible educational institution.

 

Here are some things the IRS wants you to know about 529 plans.

  • A 529 plan is an educational savings plan designed to provide tax-free earnings for the benefit of a student. Withdrawals must be used for qualified higher education expenses at an eligible educational institution.
  • Qualified higher education expenses include tuition, reasonable costs of room and board, mandatory fees, computer technology, supplies and books.
  • An eligible educational institution includes any college, university, vocational school or other postsecondary educational institution eligible to participate in a student aid program administered by the Department of Education.
  • Contributions to a 529 plan cannot be more than the amount necessary to provide for a student’s qualified education expenses.

 

Technology Expenses Make the Grade for Qualified Tuition Programs

For more information about 529 plans, see IRS Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education. For more information on other key tax provisions of the Recovery Act, visit the official IRS Website at IRS.gov/Recovery.

 

Links About Computer Tax Credits:

  • Tax Benefits for Education: Information Center
  • Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education
  • Fact Sheet 2009-12, How 529 Plans Help Families Save for College; and How the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 Expanded 529 Plan Features
  • 529 Plans: Questions and Answers
  • IR-2009-78, Special IRS Web Section Highlights Back-to-School Tax Breaks; Popular 529 Plans Expanded, New $2,500 College Credit Available
education credits

Tax Credit Helps Pay for Higher Education Expenses

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was passed in early 2009 and created the American Opportunity Credit. This educational tax credit – which expanded the existing Hope credit – helps parents and students pay for college and college-related expenses.

Here are the top nine things the Internal Revenue Service wants you to know about this valuable credit and how you can benefit from it when you file your 2009 taxes.

  1. The credit can be claimed for tuition and certain fees paid for higher education in 2009 and 2010.
  2. The American Opportunity Credit can be claimed for expenses paid for any of the first four years of post-secondary education.
  3. The credit is worth up to $2,500 and is based on a percentage of the cost of qualified tuition and related expenses paid during the taxable year for each eligible student. This is a $700 increase from the Hope Credit.
  4. The term “qualified tuition and related expenses” has been expanded to include expenditures for required course materials. For this purpose, the term “course materials” means books, supplies and equipment required for a course of study.
  5. Taxpayers will receive a tax credit based on 100 percent of the first $2,000 of tuition, fees and course materials paid during the taxable year, plus 25 percent of the next $2,000 of tuition, fees and course materials paid during the taxable year.
  6. Forty percent of the credit is refundable, so even those who owe no tax can get up to $1,000 of the credit for each eligible student as cash back.
  7. To be eligible for the full credit, your modified adjusted gross income must be $80,000 or less — $160,000 or less for joint filers.
  8. The credit begins to decrease for individuals with incomes above $80,000 or $160,000 for joint filers and is not available for individuals who make more than $90,000 or $180,000 for joint filers.
  9. The credit is claimed using Form 8863, Education Credits, (American Opportunity, Hope, and Lifetime Learning Credits), and is attached to Form 1040 or 1040A.

For more information about the American Opportunity Tax Credit visit the IRS Web site at IRS.gov/recovery.

graduation-child

Ten Tax Tips for Taxpayers with Children and Students

Do you have children? Having children or students enrolled in higher education will most likely change your tax situation. Below you will find 10 things you should consider before filing your taxes.

Dependents – In most cases, a child can be claimed as a dependent the first year they were born. There are however a few exceptions to this. Refer to the IRS publication 501 – Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information.

Child Tax Credit – For each of your children under age 17, you may be able to take this credit. If you only qualify for a partial credit instead of the full Child Tax Credit, you may be eligible for the Additional Child Tax Credit. Even if you don’t owe any tax, you may still be eligible for the Additional Child Tax Credit which is a refundable credit and may give you a refund. See IRS Publication 972, Child Tax Credit

Child and Dependent Care Credit – If you work or are looking for work and you have to pay someone to care for your child under the age of 13, you may be able to claim this credit. See IRS Publication 503, Child and Dependent Care Expenses.

Earned Income Credit – The EITC or EIC is a great benefit for taxpayers who work and have earned income from wages, self-employment or farming. The EITC reduces the amount of tax you owe and may also give you a refund. See IRS Publication 596, EIC Table to see if you qualify and check your AGI in the EIC table.

Adoption Credit – If you adopted a child you may be eligible for a tax credit covering your qualifying expenses paid to adopt an eligible child. qualifying expenses paid to adopt an eligible child. See the instructions for IRS Form 8839, Qualified Adoption Expenses.

Children with Earned Income – If your child has income earned from working they may be required to file a tax return. For more information see IRS Publication 501.

Children with Investment Income – Under certain circumstances a child’s investment income may be taxed at the parent’s tax rate. For more information see IRS Publication 929, Tax Rules for Children and Dependents.

 

Student Tax Tips

Coverdell Education Savings Account – This savings account is used to pay qualified educational expenses at an eligible educational institution. Contributions are not deductible, however, qualified distributions generally are tax-free. For more information see IRS Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education.

Higher Education Credits – Education tax credits can help offset the costs of education. The American Opportunity and the Lifetime Learning Credit are education credits that reduce your federal income tax dollar-for-dollar, unlike a deduction, which reduces your taxable income. For more information see IRS Publication 970.

Student Loan Interest – You may be able to deduct interest you pay on a qualified student loan. The deduction is claimed as an adjustment to income so you do not need to itemize your deductions. For more information see IRS Publication 970.

college tax benefits

Six Facts About the American Opportunity Tax Credit

Many parents and college students will be able to offset the cost of college over the next two years under the new American Opportunity Tax Credit. This tax credit is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

 

diploma_cap

Here are six important facts the IRS wants you to know about the new American Opportunity Tax Credit:

  1. This credit, which expands and renames the existing Hope Credit, can be claimed for qualified tuition and related expenses that you pay for higher education in 2009 and 2010. Qualified tuition and related expenses include tuition, related fees, books and other required course Materials.
  2. The credit is equal to 100 percent of the first $2,000 spent and 25 percent of the next $2,000 per student each year. Therefore, the full $2,500 credit may be available to a taxpayer who pays $4,000 or more in qualifying expenses for an eligible student.
  3. The full credit is generally available to eligible taxpayers who make less than $80,000 or $160,000 for married couples filing a joint return. The credit is gradually reduced, however, for taxpayers with incomes above these levels.
  4. Forty percent of the credit is refundable, so even those who owe no tax can get up to $1,000 of the credit for each eligible student as cash back.
  5. The credit can be claimed for qualified expenses paid for any of the first four years of post-secondary education.
  6. You cannot claim the tuition and fees tax deduction in the same year that you claim the American Opportunity Tax Credit or the Lifetime Learning Credit. You must choose to either take the credit or the deduction, which ever is more beneficial for you.

 

Six Facts About the American Opportunity Tax Credit

Complete details on the American Opportunity Tax Credit and other key tax provisions of the Recovery Act are available at the official IRS Web site at IRS.gov/Recovery.

Links:

lifeguards

Seven Tax Tips for Students with a Summer Job

Many students get a summer job during their time off from school. It is important to remember that everyone has to pay taxes and file a return. Just because you are a student does not change much in this regard.  Here are the top seven things the IRS wants everyone to know about income earned while working a summer job. If it’s your first job it gives you a chance to learn about the working world. That includes taxes we pay to support the place where we live, our state and our nation. Here are eight things that students who take a summer job should know about taxes:

You may not earn enough money from your summer job to be required to file a tax return. Even if that’s true, you may still want to file. For example, if your employer withheld income tax from your pay, you’ll have to file a return to get your taxes refunded. You can prepare and e-file your tax return for free using IRS Free File. It’s available exclusively on IRS.gov. When no one else can claim you as a dependent, you can figure out whether filing a tax return is necessary by comparing the total income you earn from your summer job (and all other jobs) to the sum of the standard deduction you can take for the filing status you use plus one personal exemption. If your income is less than this sum, you do not need to file a tax return

 

Information on Taxes and Summer Jobs for High School and College Students

lifeguards

1. Taxpayers fill out a W-4 when starting a new job. This form is used by employers to determine the amount of tax that will be withheld from your paycheck. Taxpayers with multiple summer jobs will want to make sure all their employers are withholding an adequate amount of taxes to cover their total income tax liability. To make sure your withholding is correct, visit the Withholding Calculator on IRS.gov.

2. Whether you are working as a waiter or a camp counselor, you may receive tips as part of your summer income. All tip income you receive is taxable income and is therefore subject to federal income tax.

3. Many students do odd jobs over the summer to make extra cash. Earnings you received from self-employment are subject to income tax. These earnings include income from odd jobs like baby-sitting and lawn mowing.

4. If you have net earnings of $400 or more from self-employment, you will also have to pay self-employment tax. This tax pays for your benefits under the Social Security system. Social Security and Medicare benefits are available to individuals who are self-employed the same as they are to wage earners who have Social Security tax and Medicare tax withheld from their wages. The self-employment tax is figured on Form 1040, Schedule SE.

5. Subsistence allowances paid to ROTC students participating in advanced training are not taxable. However, active duty pay – such as pay received during summer advanced camp – is taxable.

6. Special rules apply to services you perform as a newspaper carrier or distributor. You are a direct seller and treated as self-employed for federal tax purposes if you meet the following conditions:

  • You are in the business of delivering newspapers.
  • All your pay for these services directly relates to sales rather than to the number of hours worked.
  • You perform the delivery services under a written contract which states that you will not be treated as an employee for federal tax purposes.

7. Generally, newspaper carriers or distributors under age 18 are not subject to self-employment tax. Babysitting, mowing lawns, and other odd jobs are generally considered self-employment. If your net income (income minus expenses) from self employment is $400 or more, the IRS requires you to pay self-employment taxes.

Regardless of the rules you follow to determine your filing obligations, there are ways to reduce your taxable income – the final amount you calculate tax on – other than taking the standard deduction and personal exemptions. Several credits and deductions can reduce your tax bill, some of which are available for the expenses you incur as a student. If itemizing saves you more in tax than the standard deduction, filing a Schedule A with your return can further reduce your taxes.

 

Additional IRS Resources on Summer Jobs:

 

IRS YouTube Videos on Part-time and Summer Jobs:

 

IRS Podcasts on Summer Jobs:

education credits

Offsetting Your Education Costs

Education tax credits can help offset the costs of higher education for yourself or a dependent. The Hope Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit are two education credits available which may benefit you the student. Because they are credits rather than deductions, you may be able to subtract them in full, dollar for dollar, from your federal income tax.

 

graduation_cap

The Hope Credit

  • The credit applies for the first two years of post-secondary education, such as college or vocational school. It does not apply to the third, fourth, or higher years of undergraduate programs, to graduate programs, or to professional-level programs.
  • It can be worth up to $1,800 ($3,600 if a student in a Midwestern disaster area) per eligible student, per year.
  • You’re allowed a credit of 100% of the first $1,200 ($2,400 if a student in a Midwestern disaster area) of qualified tuition and related fees paid during the tax year, plus 50% of the next $1,200 ($2,400 if a student in a Midwestern disaster area).
  • Each student must be enrolled at least half-time for at least one academic period which began during the year.
  • The student must be free of any federal or state felony conviction for possessing or distributing a controlled substance as of the end of the tax year.

 

The Lifetime Learning Credit

  • The credit applies to undergraduate, graduate and professional degree courses, including instruction to acquire or improve job skills, regardless of the number of years in the program.
  • If you qualify, your credit equals 20% (40% if a student in a Midwestern disaster area) of the first $10,000 of post-secondary tuition and fees you pay during the year, for a maximum credit of $2,000 ($4,000 if a student in a Midwestern disaster area) per tax return.

You cannot claim both the Hope and Lifetime Learning Credits for the same student in the same year. You also cannot claim either credit if you claim a tuition and fees deduction for the same student in the same year. To qualify for either credit, you must pay post-secondary tuition and certain related expenses for yourself, your spouse or your dependent. The credit may be claimed by the parent or the student, but not by both. Students who are claimed as a dependent cannot claim the credit.

 

Offsetting Your Education Costs

These credits are phased out for Modified Adjusted Gross Income over $48,000 ($96,000 for married filing jointly) and eliminated completely for Modified Adjusted Gross Income of $58,000 or more ($116,000 for married filing jointly). If the taxpayer is married, the credit may be claimed only on a joint return.

For more information, see Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education, which can be obtained below or by calling the IRS at 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Links:
Form 8863, Education Credits
Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education
Tax Topic 605