Workshop informs, answers questions about filing taxes


Iliana Ingram | The Daily Eastern News

Director of accounting Nicholas Robinson, speaks with the crowd during the Income Tax Workshop Wednesday afternoon in Lumpkin Hall.

Melissa Jabek, Contributing Writer

The Income Tax Workshop led by director of accountancy Nicholas Robinson helped students who have struggled filing taxes and had questions regarding the different forms to use Wednesday in the Buzzard Auditorium.

Everyone has their own unique situations that affect their tax filing differently, he said.

While college students often find themselves struggling to file their taxes, it appears the rest of the country is no exception, Robinson said.

In 2015, there were 2,114,491 tax returns filed with math errors, he said.

For college students on a budget, HR block, TurboTax and Tax Slayer have free options, he said. There are also paper forms people can use that are free.

E-file is software that the IRS made for people who make less than $64,600 to file their taxes for free.

The average time it takes for students to file taxes is around 2 ½ hours, Robinson said.

“Usually the student problems are with the 1098(-T tax form), so we see a lot of problems with those because the school year and tax year aren’t the same. The school year crosses over a calendar year, and so with that issue it can be goofy because people are recording things that are different years,” he said.

1098-T is a tax form for educational expenses, tuition fees, scholarships and grants, he said. Loans do not appear on the 1098-T.

There are some education credits students can get while filing, Robinson said.

These credits are called American opportunity credits, and to earn them, the student must be an undergraduate filing for four years only. These students must also be at half time, and these opportunity credits cover tuition, fees and course material.

There is another type of education credit for graduates called lifetime learning credit; these credits cover tuition and fees but not books. 

Graduate students, unlike undergraduate students, can only accept education credits from one source, he said.

Sarah Dodoo, an international graduate student from Ghana who is majoring in family and consumer sciences, said she struggled with taxes last year.

She said she accidently claimed the American tax credit instead of the international one.

“The mistake I made was I didn’t use the (tax credit) that was recommended by the international office. I had a friend who had done this before and so I relied on that friend, and that is where I made a mistake because we ended up claiming the wrong items,” she said.

For international students, they use a different form called Sprintax, Robinson said. They have to file a social security number or a tax ID.

Last year, Dodoo used TurboTax instead.

Tess McArthy, a senior hospitality management major, said she helped put the workshop together after she became the University Board’s human potential coordinator.

“(The Income Tax Workshop) is a highly requested event since I started this position last year, so we just decided to bring it to campus because obviously if people are requesting (how to file taxes), it is going to be beneficial to someone,” McArthy said. “It’s like an adulting workshop.”

She said she came up with the idea to do this workshop from listening to students around campus who voiced their concerns and posted online about their income tax struggles.

Melissa Jabek can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].