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What Teens Need to Know about Taxes

Last updated February 29, 2024

Whether you had a summer job or are working part-time in high school or college, it’s important to know how to file your taxes (or if you need to file them at all). Here’s what you need to know about filing your taxes, and where to find assistance in your community.

Do you need to file taxes?

Tax season in the U.S. is from January to April, annually. The 2024 deadline to file your taxes, also known as "Tax Day," is Monday, April 15. Between January and April, everyone who earned money in 2023 needs to report it to the government by filing their taxes. Taxes are not only required by law, but the taxes we pay to the government end up funding things like roads, healthcare for elderly Americans, schools, airports, and other essential public services.

If you made below $13,850 as an employee of a company in 2023, you do not need to file your taxes. If you made more than that or were an “independent contractor" like a Lyft driver or Instacart shopper, you will need to file your taxes. 

Understanding common tax forms

There are government issued tax forms that every employer and employee in the U.S. who must pay taxes will use. Here is a quick breakdown of the most common ones:

  • W-2 - This is the form that any employer you had in the previous year will send you to show you the wages you earned and any taxes already taken from your paychecks that year. If you had multiple jobs in the previous year, you will need a W-2 from each employer.
  • W-4 - This is a form that you will complete when you start a new job. It tells the employer how much tax to take out of your paychecks for federal and state taxes. If you expect to make less than $13,850 in the year, you can choose that option on this form and no taxes will be withheld!
  • W-9 - This is a form that you’ll only need to fill out if you are going to be an independent contractor. It is a way to let anyone you work for during the year show the government that they paid you as a contractor.
  • 1099-MISC - This form is like a W-2 but for independent contractors. Anyone who paid you for contract work will send you one of these to show how much money you made. No matter how much you made, you will have to file taxes on this.

Free resources for tax help

There are many free ways to get help tailored to your specific tax-related questions and needs! Here are some resources:

  • The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) - This is the official government department that will process your tax information. Check out their Free Tax Return Help tool.
  • United Way - This national nonprofit is located in many cities and counties around the country and is a leader in helping folks file their taxes for free. They offer individual help and often partner with bilingual organizations to support. Check out their free tax help locator here.
  • Public Libraries - Most library systems around the country are a hub for free tax help. They may have tax experts helping in the library or have partner organizations they can refer you to. Some examples are in Seattle, New York City (which includes support for New Jersey and Connecticut), Detroit, Philadelphia, and Dallas

Have any questions about filing your taxes? Text #Jobs to 33-55-77 to chat with one of our advisors. If you're using a mobile device, click here to have the text message set up for you!

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