How to help your child prepare for a first tax return

Tax return time can be confusing for anyone, especially those who are filing for the first time. Fortunately, resources are available.

With tax season quickly approaching, many Floridians are gathering their forms and receipts to prepare for filing their tax returns. This process has become routine for those who have been in the workforce for years, but it can be daunting for young people who are working their first jobs. Teenagers and young adults can find just about anything they need to know about tax returns on the internet, but it can be reassuring and helpful when parents step in to teach and guide them during what can be a confusing process.

As any adult knows, tax return time means meticulous preparation. Some people prefer to file their return on their own, while to others, their tax professional is their best friend during tax season. Teenagers who are new to working can benefit by learning the options available.

Consulting a professional vs. doing it yourself

Many adults, especially those who run their own businesses or have homes and other significant assets, hire a tax professional to ensure everything is filed correctly. It is possible to do taxes on one's own, especially when things are less complicated. Young people with first jobs are less likely to have complex tax issues, and therefore may find it easier to file on their own. Many companies, such as Intuit, make it easy to file online for a minimal fee, stay organized and get the maximum return possible. Parents might consider it a valuable lesson to teach their children the basics of filing their taxes before going to a tax preparer.

However, even experienced adults can make mistakes with a simple tax return. Many find it convenient and beneficial to consult a tax professional and ensure things are done right. Having someone else do one's taxes can save time and give one peace of mind, and is generally not very costly.

Getting prepared

Preparing for tax season is often a simple matter for teens and young adults. They will need to gather the following information or documents:

· W-2 forms for employment

· Social Security number

· Proof of charitable contributions, if applicable

· Social Security benefit forms, if applicable

· Receipts showing business-related expenses, if any

If the choice was made to file taxes on one's own, it can help to look up any recent changes to tax laws before beginning. Online tax preparation programs are updated to reflect these changes, and some explain them in detail for their customers' convenience.

While filing a first tax return can be a little intimidating, young people with their first jobs should have no reason to panic. Their parents can help, and any complex tax questions or issues may be resolved by speaking with a tax professional or an experienced tax attorney in Florida.