Faculty expert offers tax filing tips for UNT students

Tuesday, April 9, 2024 - 17:00

DENTON (UNT), Texas — As tax filing deadlines approach next week across the U.S., Peggy Jimenez at the University of North Texas shares valuable tips for UNT students for filing federal taxes this spring.

Listen to Dr. Peggy Jimenez share her tax tips on the Happy Friday, North Texas! podcast

"Be careful about the information you trust,” Jimenez said. “TikTok, Instagram, X and even ChatGPT may suggest that you are eligible for a particular deduction or can exclude income from your tax return. Individuals on these platforms can be very convincing. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."

Jimenez, a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Accounting in the G. Brint Ryan College of Business, discussed what students need to know about filing taxes and how to maximize special tax benefits.

"The first and most important step for parents and children is to determine if the parent is eligible to claim the child as a dependent or not," Jimenez said. "This determination will be based on various factors such as the child's age, student status, and the extent to which they support themselves.”

Before teaching at UNT, Jimenez worked in the federal tax department of a major firm that helped top global companies with their taxes. Her job included preparing tax returns, managing tax accounts for financial records and auditing tax accounts on company statements.

“The second thing to look into is deduction and tax credit possibilities,” Jimenez said.

College students should look into three key tax credits:

  • the Lifetime Learning Credit, offering up to $2,000 for various education costs;
  • the American Opportunity Tax Credit, providing up to $2,500 for tuition and related expenses during the first four years of college;
  • and tuition and fee deductions, which can total up to $4,000 for eligible expenses.

“It’s important to note that many tax benefits are only eligible to U.S .citizens and foreign nationals filing as resident aliens,” said Nicole Conant, director of international programs and communication at UNT. “These benefits do not apply to students who may be filing as nonresident aliens.”

Scholarship winners should note that qualified expenses for tax exclusion and credits cover tuition, fees, books, supplies and required equipment. However, room and board are not eligible.

“Even if you withdrew from some classes during 2023, you may still be eligible to claim a tax credit if you did not receive a refund for the tuition paid relating to those classes,” Jimenez said.

Additionally, independent working students should explore the Earned Income Tax Credit. For individuals working any jobs where traditional W-2 forms are not issued, they will receive a 1099 form. It’s important to collect these 1099 forms and include them in their income. Keeping thorough records of any business-related expenses from side jobs may result in deductible expenses.

"Students preparing their tax returns for the first time want to make sure that they include all of their income on their tax returns, including any income from side jobs," Jimenez said. "They want to keep track of the income they made, but they also want to keep track of their related expenses, so if they're driving to perform at a recital or a concert, that they're getting paid for, they want to keep track of the miles to and from."

Even after completing secondary education, individuals can still benefit from education-related dedications. For those with college debt, they may qualify for a student loan interest deduction. This deduction allows for up to $2,500 of interest paid on qualified student loans to be deducted.

"My last piece of advice is to use a reputable service that will help protect your personal information, such as your social security number and address, and allow you to ensure your tax return was properly filed," Jimenez said.

UNT News Service Phone Number: (940) 565-2108

Media Contacts:

Chelsey Gilbert