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What Teens and Young Adults Need to Know About Tax Filing

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Alisson Ward

Tax Professional | Content Writer

Tax Filing for Young Adults

What is Tax Filing?

Tax filing is the annual process in which individuals report various financial details, including income and expenses, to the government. This essential procedure ensures that citizens fulfill their civic duty by providing accurate and comprehensive information about their financial activities. Through tax filing, individuals contribute to the overall functioning of the government and enable the assessment of their tax liability, either resulting in the payment of owed taxes or the receipt of a tax refund if excess taxes have been paid throughout the year.

Why is Tax Filing Necessary?

Filing taxes is a civic duty, and it’s a way for the government to determine if you owe taxes or if you’re eligible for a refund.

Key Terms to Know

  • Income: The money you earn, including wages, tips, and any other source of income.
  • Deductions: Certain expenses that can be subtracted from your total income to reduce the amount of income subject to taxation.
  • Refund: If you’ve overpaid taxes, you get a refund – it’s like getting back the extra money you lent to the government.

What Teens and Young Adults Need to Know

1. Jobs and Income Reporting

For many young individuals, this might be the first time you’re officially employed. Here’s what you need to consider:

  • Understanding W-2s: If you’re employed, your employer will provide you with a W-2 form, summarizing your income and taxes withheld.
  • Freelance or Gig Work: If you’re freelancing or doing gig work, keep track of your income, as you’ll likely need to report it.

2. Dependent or Independent?

Your tax status depends on your dependency status.

  • Dependent Status: If you’re under 19 or a full-time student under 24 and your parent or guardian provides over half of your financial support, you’re likely a dependent.
  • Independent Status: If you’re financially supporting yourself, you may qualify as an independent taxpayer.

3. Navigating Forms and Software

The thought of tax forms can be intimidating, but fear not! There are tools and resources to make the process smoother.

  • Using Tax Software: Consider using user-friendly tax software, which can guide you through the process step by step.
  • Common Forms for Individuals: Form 1040 or 1040-EZ are common forms for individual tax filers. Your tax software will likely ask you questions to determine the appropriate form for your situation.

4. Deductions for Young Taxpayers

While your financial landscape might not be as complex as older adults, there are still deductions you can explore:

  • Educational Expenses: If you’re a student, you may be eligible for education-related credits or deductions.
  • Job-Related Expenses: If your job requires certain expenses, keep track of them. Some job-related expenses may be deductible.

Tips for Smooth Sailing

Navigating your first tax filing experience can be stress-free with a few helpful tips.

  1. Start Early: Don’t procrastinate. Starting early gives you ample time to gather documents and seek help if needed.
  2. Keep Records: Maintain organized records of your income, expenses, and any potential deductions.
  3. Seek Guidance: If you’re unsure about something, don’t hesitate to seek guidance from a trusted adult or use tax software that provides assistance.


Embarking on your first tax filing journey may seem like a formidable task, but armed with knowledge, it becomes a manageable voyage. Whether you’re reporting income from your first job or navigating the intricacies of tax forms, this guide equips you with the essentials. Smooth sailing through tax season, young filers!

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