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Filing State and Federal Taxes Shouldn't Be a Pain

Column by Eva Moy
Staff Reporter

What's the easiest way to file your taxes? Ask your parents to do it!

Seriously, Monday is the deadline - the dreaded April 15 - for federal income tax returns. Maybe you have already filed your return, or intend to do it this weekend. Or maybe you don't even know where to pick up the forms.

Disclaimer: If you invest in stocks or own a house or are a small farmer, then you probably already know how to do your complicated taxes. Flip back to World & Nation.

When I filed my first tax return freshman year I was worried about all sorts of little details. Should I use the 1040 or 1040A or 1040EZ form? What are all these "schedules?" Should I file on paper or electronically? How do I find a copy of the Virginia tax forms?

Or an even more basic question: Am I a resident of Massachusetts because I'm here for most of the year, or am I a Virginia resident because I'm still a student?

I went to the post office and the library looking for all the right forms. Sometimes the smaller branches run out of forms early. I read every page of the instructions and double checked all of my numbers. I compared the results for the different 1040 forms. They were the same.

I made sure when I stapled the W-2 and 1099 forms in the right places that the main 1040 form would still tri-fold correctly. Then I xeroxed everything, made sure the whole thing still weighed under 1 ounce - I wouldn't want it to be sent back because of insufficient postage - and sent it off.

In the next few years, I must admit that I've become more lax about the whole process and have even made a few mistakes in the calculations (in my favor). Once I'd assembled all the various pieces of paper, it would only take me an hour or two to finish. Maybe I was just lucky. Or maybe students' taxes are incredibly simple after all.

This year, however, is one of my last in the world of the 1040EZ form. I forced myself to keep all of my receipts (although they're still in a huge pile somewhere in my room) and started keeping track of my expenses on my computer. Maybe I'll learn some good habits for when I enter the real world and hopefully make more than $10,000-15,000 per year.

So, anyway, if you haven't done your return yet, invite a few friends over on Monday, watch the marathon for a while, and then finally sort out all those little pieces of paper. As for me, I've already gotten back all of my tax refunds.