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
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: