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Taxes? How do I learn about them and get through them? #Spring23

As an upcoming adult in the world taxes seem daunting and something I should be knowledgeable about but where do I start what should I know?

Thank you comment icon It is very simple, in today's world, you can file taxes with lots of applications. Of course you should have some basic knowledges from school, like amortization, and what kind of car would qualify for tax saving, etc. Ching Poon

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Keri’s Answer

Life guarantees two things: death and taxes. It's great that you're considering them! My major was accounting, and I found my tax class fascinating. Looking back, I wish I had chosen a tax career instead of auditing.

If you're keen on a tax career, any entry-level job will equip you with all the necessary knowledge. The big 4 accounting firms offer numerous positions for fresh college graduates, providing a gateway into corporate tax.

If you're talking about managing your personal taxes, TurboTax is an excellent resource for annual filing.
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Gulshan’s Answer

Seeing your question reminded me of this quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin : [I]n this world, nothing is certain except death and taxes.

I commend you taking the time to realize that you need help with taxes, and the effort to actually ask for help.

I see earlier comments have been made referring to the IRS's VITA program and to TurboTax. Those are excellent places to begin your journey into the unavoidable world of taxes. Of course, this all assumes you're looking at and worried about only income taxes. Depending on your vocation, you may have Business undertakings, for which you may have other Sales/Use Tax, VAT (depending on the country of operations), Withholding (varied by tax), etc. There are dozens of variations, none reasonable enough to be covered in this little text box, so I'll stick to personal / income tax.

As and when you earn enough, you could always avail the services of qualified tax consultant, but until then VITA is a great place to start. While the latter can't advice you on how to actually minimize your taxes, or maximize your tax refund, or to identify and actually avail all tax breaks available and applicable to you, etc. - you can certainly start off by visiting the VITA centers and asking for help. You can always visit your local library for resources on tax filing and the latest tax regulations. I know those can be very dense and at times sleep-inducing, there are easy-to-follow guides, in non-legalese language, that libraries may have.

Alternatively, depending on your comfort and preferences, you could lean on your personal family / friends / peer network.

Your county may offer discounted or free tax preparation, for families or individuals upto a certain income level. In many cases, the IRS VITA program website will redirect you to your local county or library website for tax prep assistance.

Softwares like TurboTax or H&R Block allow you to fill-in and prepare your tax returns, with numerous, leading and very simple questions - in some cases for free.

Good Luck

Gulshan recommends the following next steps:

Find out about VITA here: https://www.irs.gov/individuals/free-tax-return-preparation-for-qualifying-taxpayers
Further details on VITA here: https://www.benefits.gov/benefit/1543
San Jose Public Library tax prep webpage: https://www.sjpl.org/blog/2023-tax-help-san-jose-public-libraries
Santa Clara county tax prep webpage: https://news.sccgov.org/news-release/free-income-tax-preparation-assistance-offered-low-income-elderly-disabled-limited
More links: https://www.findhelp.org/money/tax-preparation--san-jose-ca
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Andrea’s Answer

Hi! Good for your taking responsibility in this area and wanting to be more informed. Depending on your income you may be eligible for free tax preparation and resources. Try looking for VITA or other free tax prep programs in your area. They will often file tax returns for free for students or if your income is below a certain level. You may also seek to volunteer with one of these organizations and they will train you know about taxes and returns. You can then qualify to volunteer preparing returns for others! This can be rolled into a very rewarding career once you have some experience. (Disclosure: I used to volunteer at an organization preparing returns.)

Andrea recommends the following next steps:

Research VITA and other free tax prep services in your area
Get in touch with them through email
Consider whether you want free tax services or to serve as a volunteer
Get ready for tax time! It can be busy.
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Jerome’s Answer

When first starting out, your taxes should be somewhat simple. You can find calculators online that will let you plug in your details and give you an estimated tax liability. By taking that number and dividing it by the number of checks you get in a year, you can get pretty close to what you need deducted per check.

The IRS actually has a free tool that will walk you through the process.

Things will potentially get more complicated as you pay student loans or obtain a mortgage, and at that point getting professional help may be an order. Although, programs, like TurboTax can walk, you step-by-step through the process as well.
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Juan Sebastian’s Answer

Hello! My top recommendation is to join a tax company as a seasonal employee. They'll provide training and teach you the fundamentals of taxes! If you enjoy it, consider a permanent position with them. Otherwise, you'll still gain valuable knowledge. Wishing you the best!
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Melissa’s Answer

Kudos to you for trying to get ahead of things. A good tool is TurboTax. They stay up to date with all the tax laws, have a nice search data base you can ask questions and do your own taxes every year if you wish. Luckily, you're taxes should be pretty straightforward now, but as you buy things and take on different types of work or investments may become more complex. TurboTax has served me well over the years.
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