Students troubled by taxing process

by Beacon Staff • April 12, 2006

For many college students, filing taxes can be a nerve-racking experience.

"Usually, my parents handle [taxes] for me, and I had not even thought about it until right now," junior film major Timothy Whitney said Monday.,Although the deadline is April 15 every year, workers across America are often caught off guard as tax day approaches.

For many college students, filing taxes can be a nerve-racking experience.

"Usually, my parents handle [taxes] for me, and I had not even thought about it until right now," junior film major Timothy Whitney said Monday. "Everybody's been talking about tax time, but I guess I've had enough other stuff on my mind to forget about it."

Whitney said that the thought of the approaching deadline is stressful. "I'll probably go and call my mom tonight," he said.

The process is less worrisome for students like Arnold Serapilio who filed their taxes early.

"Normally, filing taxes would totally stress me out," said Serapilio, a sophomore writing, literature and publishing (WLP) major. "But my mom kept hounding me, so I did it over spring break."

Filing taxes can be a confusing process, especially for those without previous experience filling out the forms.

In fact, according to the HR Block tax-services Web site, "35 percent of all submitted personal tax returns have at least one mistake that affects the taxpayer negatively, and 17 percent have at least one mistake that affects the taxpayer positively."

The site lists forgetting to include one's social security number, signature and appropriate documentation among the most common mistakes made on tax returns. These errors result in delays, and forms are returned to the filer for correction. Math mistakes and failure to claim tax credit are also common errors, which often result in the taxpayer paying more than they have to.

For some who have already taken the time to fill out their tax returns, the process has paid off.

"I already filed and I'm getting a refund, so I'm pretty excited," said Cassandra Fox, a junior theatre studies and organizational and political communication double major.

Students can download an "easy version" of the tax forms at the Internal Revenue Service's Web site, which guides the taxpayer through the process step by step.

"It spells everything out for you," said Serapilio.

At Emerson, where the majority of students aren't required to take math classes, the prospect of working with numbers can be unsettling.

But many of those who have already filed say that it's nothing to be worried about.

"I think if you can't fill out the easy tax forms, you have bigger problems than math," said Fox.

"The math is simple," said Serapilio. "I don't get why I'm doing it, but it's calculator math."

Some Emerson students have escaped the world of tax returns for another year. Pete Hall, a freshman TV/video major, has never filled out forms by himself.

"I don't do taxes," Hall said."I just let my dad do them for me."

Most Emersonians interviewed agreed that taxes are a tedious necessity.

"Taxes are not fun," Serapilio said. "If this is what being an adult is, then I don't want to grow up."