By Jacob Newman, Outreach Officer and Financial Aid Expert – February 16, 2018 (updated January 3, 2019)
It’s that time of year again: tax time! Students and parents across Utah are starting to prepare their 2018 taxes (or at least think about it!). Tax preparation can seem overwhelming to many Utah families. Don’t worry! Utah Tax Help helps many Utah families prepare their taxes on time. They offer two services to help make tax preparation easy.
- Free In-Person Tax Preparation: Certified volunteers assist students and families whose household incomes is less than $54,000 to prepare their taxes. Utah Tax Help offers a list of locations close to you to help prepare your taxes.
- Free Online Filing: If your household income is less than $66,000, you can file taxes at home for free! It only takes about 60 minutes.
Preparing your taxes sooner rather than later has its benefits! Here are two important reasons that you should file as soon as you can…
FAFSA, FAFSA, FAFSA!
You will use 2018 taxes for the 2020-2021 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The 2020-2021 FAFSA opens October 1, 2019. If you plan on starting college in fall of 2020 (currently a junior in high school) or if you’re a current college student, you (and your parents in most cases) will need to file taxes to complete this application. Submitting the FAFSA lets you know if you qualify for grants (free money), work-study (money earned like a paycheck), and federal student loans (borrowed money that must be repaid with interest).
Note: If you are planning on attending college in the fall of this year (2019) and haven’t filed your 2019-2- FAFSA yet, you can do so now using 2017 tax information at FAFSA.gov.
Build College Savings
Many Utah families might be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (a tax credit for people who work but do not earn high incomes) or a tax refund. You can use your tax refund or the EITC to open a college savings account through a bank or a credit union or through a 529 savings plan (like Utah’s 529 savings plan My529). If you’re on track to earn the Regents’ Scholarship and you have a 529 account with My529, you (or your parents/ guardians) can contribute $100 each year to your account at age 14, 15, and 16. When you receive the Regents’ Scholarship, My529 will match these contributions (meaning $600 in college savings!)
Tax time can be stressful, but there are resources to get the help you need. Have questions about the FAFSA or the Regents’ Scholarship? Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will help answer questions that you might have. Happy tax season!
This is not an ad. StepUp was not paid to endorse Utah Tax Help.