Doing Your Taxes in Time

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Most of the colleges along with the prestigious private colleges want you to show tax returns within a particular deadline. Even if you have all the required documents by January 31st, it would almost be impossible for you to get your taxes done. However, your financial aid forms need to be filled out by the January deadlines, as the deadline is favored by many colleges.

Here are some ways, which you should follow to meet the college’s deadline:

  • You should never miss the deadlines of the college. The college understands that their deadlines are too early for most people to have completed their taxes. So, you should provide the college an estimate of your earnings, expenses, and tax returns.
  • While preparing the estimate, you should slightly underestimate your earnings, and slightly overestimate your expenses to get a slightly less EFC.
  • However, you should not provide them an estimate from thin air. Most colleges will ask you to revise your returns, and update them as soon as they get them. The SAR you will receive from the college based on the FAFSA will contain instructions for revising your numbers, if necessary.
  • To estimate, you should have a previous year’s tax return, a blank copy of this year’s tax form and all the records that you would use to fill out your taxes. Remember, while filling out your need analysis form, you will be doing a rough calculation of your tax returns.

Without waiting for the deadlines, start your preparation by collecting all your financial records. How you fill the form will totally determine the weight of your aid package. We recommend you to gather the following records by first week of December:

  1. Completed Federal tax return (all schedules)
  2. W-2 forms
  3. Records of untaxed income (social security payments received, welfare payments, tax-exempt interest income, etc.)
  4. Bank statements
  5. Brokerage statements
  6. Mortgage statements
  7. Student’s social security number and driver’s license (if available)
  8. If you are the owner of a business, the business’s financial statements or corporate tax return
  9. Any other investment statements and records
  10. Records of child support paid to or received by a former spouse
  11. Records of medical and dental expenses (must have been actually paid or charged on your credit card during the base income year)
  12. Records of any post-secondary tuition paid
  13. Records of any educational loan payments made in 2014

If you have not completed your 2014 tax return:

  1. A blank copy of the 2014 federal income tax form (visit www.irs.gov)
  2. A copy of your completed federal return for last year (all schedules)
  3. W-2 form (if unavailable, you can probably get your employer to tell you the numbers, or you can figure them out for yourself from pay stubs. Remember to include any bonuses or overtime you received)
  4. Any 1990s (statements sent by an employer, brokerage house, bank or the government to report the income earned as an independent contractor, dividends, interest, unemployment benefits, or a refund of state and local taxes from the previous year)
  5. If you are self-employed, a record of all income received, and a record of all IRS-deductible business expenses.
  6. Records of untaxed income (social security payments received, welfare payments, tax-exempt interests, etc.)
  7. Bank statements
  8. Brokerage statements
  9. Mortgage statements
  10. Student’s social security numbers and driver’s license * (if available)
  11. If you are an owner of a business, the business’s financial statements or corporate tax returns
  12. Any other investment statements and records
  13. Records of child support paid to or received by a former spouse
  14. Records of medical and dental expense (must have been actually paid or charged on your credit card during your base income year)
  15. Records of any post-secondary tuition paid
  16. Records of any interest paid on education loans 2014
  17. Records of any education loan payments made in 2014

One can totally trust the Financial Aid Officer (FAO) with all their personal details. The information will directly go to the FAO, and no one, even the members from the school (including the teachers, students or administrators) can access any information, or know who is getting the financial aid and who is not.

The FAOs have seen the worse to miserable financial condition of the parents, and the FAOs are too busy coping with the needs of thousands of students to have time to make value judgements.

Only the IRS can avail a copy of the financial aid details for the purpose of proof. They can do that by getting a subpoena. The Secretary of Education has the authority to verify the information on FAFSA with the IRS.

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