Tax season arrives

EXPLORING RESOURCES STUDENTS USE WHILE PREPARING THEIR TAXES

By Victoria Durling

Associate copy editor

Who wants to do work when someone else can do it for you? According to a Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce study in 2015, around 70 percent of college students are also working jobs outside school. With hectic schedules, and day-to-day challenges in life, many students have turned to tax assistance companies to file their taxes.

“I don’t do a whole lot, I just use freetaxusa.com and do [taxes] as soon as I get my W-2 form,” said Shelby Smith of her preferences on filing her taxes.

Companies like H&R Block, TurboTax and Jackson Hewitt sit down and do your taxes for you. According to an article published by CNS News, 90 percent of taxpayers in the United States use a third party company to help prepare their tax returns. From problems understanding how to comply with tax codes, to the general complexity of tax laws, more and more Americans are seeking help to file their taxes.

Grace Kersting said her step dad, Bob does taxes for his job. “I’m lucky enough to have him do them for me. If I didn’t have Bob, I’d have my boyfriend’s mom do mine, because she does them for her family.”

According to CNS News, John A. Koskinen, a commissioner for the IRS, claimed that the number of people seeking tax help is on the rise, the IRS has provided a page to help individuals find tax resources, including free tax help. On their website www.irs.com, under their “Articles” section, students can find an article titled “Where To Go If You Need Tax Help: Know Your Options for Tax Preparation Assistance.”

This article provides options for both free tax preparation and fee-based tax preparers and goes over some of the lingo and acronyms commonly associated with filing taxes to help their audience better understand what they need.

“I use TurboTax, because they have a free option,” said Preston Drews. “Every year I file a 1040EZ, as well. I’m usually mostly happy with my return and they, as a company make my life much easier.”

An article found in Forbes claims that in 1986, only 25,000 returns were electronically filed but recently, the IRS claims McDonald’s-like numbers, announcing more than “one billion served.” Although the Forbes article said 80 percent of taxes are e-filed, as opposed to the CNS article, e-filing makes up the majority’s preferred method for filing their taxes.

What does this mean for the tax preparation industry? IBISWorld reported that the industry as a whole will make more than $11 billion this year. With a fast-paced annual growth percentage (it climbed nearly six percent in just five years,) it’s safe to say the data supports the claims of 80 and 90 percent usage of tax preparers by the public.

As students push forward further into the digital world, jobs in locally-owned tax preparation businesses are beginning to disappear. An article on www.investopedia.com discussed this topic, as well as the other factors contributing to the downfall of in-person tax preparers. Low prices, ease of access and a vast array of services seen in online tax preperation companies has forced smaller tax businesses out, and ushered in a new, digital age for taxes.