Things Your Parents Never Taught You: Taxes!

Welcome to the second of our blog series, “Things Your Parents Never Taught You”! (see more blogs here!) Today, we’re delving into the often perplexing realm of taxes. Whether you’re a seasoned taxpayer or just starting out on your financial journey, understanding taxes is essential. We’ll unravel the complexities of the tax system, break down key concepts like deductions and credits, and provide practical tips to navigate tax season with confidence. So, grab your favorite snack, buckle up, and let’s embark on this journey your parents should’ve taken you on forever ago.!

Understanding Taxes

Think of taxes like the “parent tax” of life – you know, that moment when you’re on a road trip with your family, and you stop at a gas station for snacks. You grab your favorite candy, but as you’re cruising down the highway, your parents turn around with their hands out – “tax time!” Annoying, right? But consider this: your folks drive you around, feed you, clothe you – they basically take care of you. That’s the essence of taxes. We contribute a portion of our earnings to fund essential government services like roads, schools, and healthcare – it’s like investing in a communal pot of resources.

How the Tax System Works

The tax system ensures everyone pays their fair share. It’s not a one-size-fits-all scenario; rather, it’s tailored to individual circumstances. Your paycheck comes with a tax percentage attached – that’s your contribution to the government. The good news? In the US, we operate on a progressive tax system. Translation? As your income rises, so does your tax rate. But fear not, college students – since we’re not exactly rolling in cash, we end up paying a relatively small percentage in taxes. Oh, and there’s the 2024 federal tax bracket to consider, but remember, that doesn’t include your state taxes.

How Taxes are Calculated

Calculating taxes boils down to your taxable income – what’s left after deductions. Uncle Sam offers a standard deduction based on your relationship status. For example, if you made $40,000 as a single person, your standard deduction would be $12,950, leaving you with a taxable income of $27,050. The formula? Total income minus tax deductions equals taxable income. Then, subtract any tax credits to determine your total tax bill.

Tax Deductions vs. Tax Credits

Deductions are your secret weapons for lowering taxable income – think of them as expenses or contributions that reduce the amount subject to taxation. From student loan interest to charitable donations, deductions come in various forms, offering significant savings. On the flip side, tax credits directly reduce your tax bill dollar for dollar, making them a game changer for students. While you’re a student make sure to take advantage of  credits like the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) and Lifetime Learning Credit (LLC) to maximize your refund potential.

What is Tax Liability?

Your tax liability is the bottom line – the amount you owe the government based on your taxable income, deductions, credits, and applicable tax rates. It’s what you’ll need to pay to settle your accounts with the IRS or state tax authority.


After everything we have learned, we may now get to the great bambino:


Filing Taxes Made Simple

Filing taxes need not be daunting. Follow these steps:

  1. Gather Your Documents: Collect all the necessary paperwork before you start. This includes W-2 forms from all your employers, 1099 forms for any freelance or contract work, records of any income from investments, receipts for deductible expenses, and any other relevant documents.
  2. Choose Your Filing Method: Decide whether you’ll file your taxes yourself using tax software or online services (TurboTax is my favorite) or if you’ll hire a professional tax preparer. Each option has its pros and cons, so pick the one that suits your needs and comfort level best.
  3. Prepare Your Return: If you’re using tax software, follow the prompts to enter your information and complete your tax return. Make sure to double-check everything for accuracy and don’t forget to take advantage of any deductions or credits you’re eligible for. If you’ve taken the challenge to do your own taxes, make sure to gather the documents needed for your educational credits and deductions.
  4. Review and Submit: Once you’ve filled out all the necessary forms and entered your information correctly, review your return one last time to catch any errors or omissions. When you’re confident everything is accurate, go ahead and submit your return.
  5. Pay Any Taxes Due: If you owe taxes, make sure to pay them by the filing deadline to avoid penalties and interest charges. You can typically pay online, by phone, or by mail using a check or money order.
  6. Keep Copies of Your Return: After you’ve filed your taxes, be sure to keep copies of your return and all supporting documents for your records. You may need them for future reference or in case of an audit.
  7. Stay Informed: Finally, stay up-to-date on any changes to the tax laws or filing requirements that may affect you in the future. Being informed will help you stay on top of your tax obligations and maximize any potential tax benefits. If you didn’t know you could get credits from education in the past, you could fill out a 1040X form for any taxes you’ve filed within the last three years to claim that credit!

Remember, if you’re ever unsure, seek guidance from a qualified tax professional or check out this YouTube Video: Taxes For Beginners!


In conclusion, understanding taxes is vital for everyone, whether you’re a seasoned taxpayer or just starting out. Taxes are like the “parent tax” of life, funding essential government services and programs. The tax system ensures everyone pays their fair share, with a progressive tax rate meaning higher earners contribute more. Calculating taxes involves determining your taxable income, applying deductions, and subtracting tax credits. Your tax liability is the bottom line, representing what you owe the government. But fear not, filing taxes doesn’t have to be daunting. By following our simplified roadmap, gathering your documents, choosing your filing method, and staying informed, you can navigate tax season with confidence. So, keep your favorite snack handy and tackle your taxes with ease. Stay tuned for more insights in our series, and happy filing!


One thing off your to-do list: finding your next place to live! Find My Place is THE BEST PLACE to find and sell contracts! We have over 200+ available contracts from condos, complexes, and (YES!) houses. All from students like you!

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