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Golden Gate Xpress

The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

Xplainer: Income Taxes

What you need to know before the April 15 deadline

According to filing statistics from the Internal Revenue Service, over 80 million Americans have already filed their income taxes for 2024. With the deadline quickly approaching, it’s crucial for those who haven’t filed yet to gather their documents and begin the process. 

What are income taxes? 

Income taxes are federal, state and local taxes that may be collected on income an individual earns throughout the year. Some examples of income are salaries, wages, tips, commissions and interest from savings accounts. 

The way income taxes are collected is varied. Most income taxes are collected through paycheck deductions by an employer. Self-employed individuals, like those working as ride-share and food delivery drivers, are responsible for handling their own tax payments since taxes aren’t automatically deducted from their earnings.

What documents do I need? 

To file taxes, several different documents must be gathered. For those employed by a business, their employer sends out a Form W-2. The form reports an employee’s income from the prior year and how much tax money the employer withheld in total from all paychecks. 

A separate form must be completed for self-employed people. Additionally, some people may be required to submit various Form 1099s to report other forms of income, including income from interest (1099-INT), income from working as a private contractor or freelancer (1099-NEC), and other miscellaneous income (1099-MISC). 

The deadline to file taxes is April 15, but those who need extra time can apply for a tax filing extension by completing Form 4868. The extension pushes the return date to Oct. 15, but it does not push back any payments due. 

How can I file my taxes? 

There are several different options for filing taxes, including hiring a human tax preparer or preparing taxes online with tax preparation software such as TurboTax, H&R Block, TaxSlayer and TaxAct. 

One new option the IRS has given taxpayers this year is a pilot program called Direct File. This program allows certain residents in 12 states, including California, to file federal income taxes for free directly with the IRS. State taxes are not eligible for the program. 

San Francisco State University students can also visit Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA), which provides free tax services to taxpayers with incomes of less than $70,000 per year. Located in room 116 of the Creative Arts building, the program offers tax services in English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean. 

According to VITA site manager Lan Wang, each appointment goes through three stages — initial tax preparation, quality review and finalization by the site coordinator to ensure accuracy. 

“Students think filing taxes is complicated, but it’s not complicated if they collect enough documents; just follow those steps,” said VITA faculty advisor Lena Yang. 

Vincent Tang, a volunteer at VITA, said that even if a person is unsure whether they have to file taxes, they still should because they might be eligible for a refund through different credits like the American Opportunity Tax Credit

The last day for SFSU VITA services is Friday, April 12. Students can make an appointment through their website

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About the Contributor
Sean Young
Sean Young, Campus Editor
Sean Young (he/him) is the campus editor for Golden Gate Xpress. He is a journalism major with a minor in California Studies. Originally from the small town of Sebastopol, Sean now lives in San Francisco. Before transferring to SF State, Sean studied journalism at Santa Rosa Junior College, where he was editor-in-chief of the college's student publication The Oak Leaf News. In his spare time, Sean can be found watching sports, listening to his vinyl record collection and reading the latest news from The New York Times.

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