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What should I do to prepare for tax season?

Taxes are payments we make to our government to support its operations.  Our public schools, road

Preparing For Tax Season

Taxes are payments we make to our government to support its operations.  Our public schools, roads, military, disability benefits, etc. are all funded by the taxes we pay.  Taxes come in many different forms, some of the most common being taxes on income, purchases, property, capital gains, inheritance, and gifts. 

While we are required to pay taxes, what we indicate about our income, assets, household, and other financial information can determine exactly how much we need to pay. For example, there are tax deductions and credits which individuals can take advantage of to offset their tax burdens substantially. 

However, knowing how to correctly file your taxes can be challenging. The tax code is over 74,000 pages long and more than we can possibly cover on our website.  The information we've included is meant to connect you with some of the available resources to assist you in the filing process. By no means is this an exhaustive list of resources out there, but rather options to consider as you prepare for tax season. 


Resources at Duke

Duke Law VITA Program: The Law School of Duke University has participated in the Federal Government’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program to help low-income individuals file their taxes. For undergraduate students and other Duke affiliates looking for assistance on basic or simple tax returns, meaning they do not have any special circumstances that would warrant additional forms and services beyond the 1040 filing paperwork, appointments can be made starting January 17th, 2020.

Though walk-ins are accepted when time permits, it is advised that you make an appointment to meet with an IRS volunteer through the VITA program.

Please note: The Duke Law VITA program is no longer able to assist graduate and professional students with the tax filing process.

For international students and non-residents, I-HOUSE has partnered with the Duke Law VITA program to offer several sessions of Facilitated Self Assist tax filing. These offerings allow individuals to ask questions to trained volunteers as they complete their tax forms. Please contact I-HOUSE to register for a spot in one of the sessions.

Resources Online 

For individuals who feel comfortable navigating the filing process more independently, the IRS offers a free electronic filing option

Other free and low-cost filing options include:

Turbo Tax 

H&R Block 

Credit Karma 

Tax Slayer 

If you are unfamiliar with how to file your taxes, first refer to the IRS website. Follow up the information provided by the IRS with different checklists and tips from other personal finance website and blogs.

Here are some to get you started:

Nerd Wallet

The Simple Dollar

Credit Karma