Taxes 101: Your On the Hill Guide to Filing Your Taxes


Tax season might be confusing for most students. We’ve collaborated with Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA at UCLA) to create this guide to answer commonly asked questions. The following guide is non-exhaustive and only addresses basic issues which commonly affect college students. If you feel that you need further assistance, feel free to visit VITA at UCLA at Ackerman Viewpoint on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 11AM-4PM until Week 9 of Winter Quarter and Mondays through Fridays from 11AM-4PM during Spring Quarter until April 15th. Check out their website for more information and tax site reservations (they also accept walk-ins!).

Before you may determine what you are to do this tax season, let’s define essential tax lingo that is unfamiliar to the ordinary college student.


In more cases than not, college students are still considered dependents of their parents. As a child of your parents, if you meet the following requirements, you are considered a dependent:

1) You are under 19 years of age, or you are a full-time college student under the age of 24

2) You must have lived with your parents for more than half the year*

3) You must not have provided 50 percent or more of your own support**

* Temporary absences, such as living at college (dorms, apartments, etc), are exceptions to this rule. You may still be a dependent even if you live at college for most of the year.

** You only provide your own support if you have earned income which you use to support yourself. For example, receiving full financial-aid is not considered supporting yourself, even if your parents do not have to pay for your college tuition and expenses.



Access your 1098-T tuition statement from UCLA at

All students enrolled at UCLA will be able to access their 1098T statements for the tax year. This statement details the amounts UCLA billed a student for qualified tuition and associated educational expenses, in addition to the amounts of scholarships and grants received by the student.

If Box 2 > Box 5 => You may qualify for an education credit. If you are a dependent, your parents should assume your 1098-T and make full benefit of the tax credit—make sure to send them your 1098-T forms! If you are independent, come into VITA at UCLA so that we may advise you on the best tax situation to take.

If Box 2 < Box 5 => You have scholarship income. Scholarships and grants which exceed the amounts of qualified tuition and educational expenses is considered income. Qualified educational expenses do NOT include items such as room and board (ie, dorm housing), transportation, food (ie, meal plans), insurance, and other bare necessities.


I worked in the 2014 tax year and received a W-2 tax form from (each of) my employer(s). The W-2 details the amount you earned in the tax year (Box 1), the aggregate amount of money withheld from your paycheck in anticipation of taxes due (Box 2), and other supplemental information.

To determine your total income for the year, add together your scholarship income and W-2 income.

After determining if you are a dependent or not, and summing up your total income for the year, please use the following Q&A survey to answer the hot question: “Do I need to file a tax return?”

  • Are you a dependent?
    1. Yes => Go to Question 2
    2. No => Go to Question 4
    3. Unsure => Come visit VITA!
  • Do you have more than $6,200 in total income?
    1. Yes => You have a tax liability and should file your taxes this year => Come visit VITA!
    2. No => Go to Question 3
    3. Unsure => Come visit VITA!
  • Do you have any withholdings in Box 2 of your W-2?
    1. Yes => You should file your taxes and receive the full amount of your withholdings as a tax refund => Come visit VITA!
    2. No => You have no tax liability and have no tax filing obligation.
    3. Unsure => Come visit VITA!
  • Do you have more than $10,150 in total income?
    1. Yes => You have a tax liability and should file your taxes this year => Come visit VITA!
    2. No => Go to Question 3
    3. Unsure => Come visit VITA!

Tax law is much more complicated than the simplified guide presented above. Please come into one of VITA’s tax sites if you would like a 1-on-1 consultation concerning your tax return. Additionally, VITA at UCLA trains new volunteers every year on tax law and filing—if interested, feel free to check them out next fall recruitment!


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