U.S. Citizens & Permanent Residents Not Receiving Swarthmore Scholarship

Federal Income Tax Return Guide for U.S. Citizens & Permanent Residents Who Are Not Receiving Swarthmore Scholarship

VERY IMPORTANT NOTICE

This page provides helpful information about preparing your federal tax return. However, we cannot be tax advisors for you. While this information will be adequate for most students, it is not a substitute for advice obtained from the Internal Revenue Service or a qualified tax professional. Also, be sure to contact your family prior to filing your Federal Income Tax Return to avoid mistakes.

The information in this guide is limited to Swarthmore College students who are: 

  • U.S. citizens or permanent residents
  • single with no dependents
  • under the age of 24
  • not blind
  • claimed (or can be claimed) as a dependent on another taxpayer's return

If you do not fit into all of these classifications, do not use this guide.  Also, this guide assumes your income is limited to wages, tips, Alaska Permanent Fund dividends,
and taxable interest not over $1,500; and your total taxable income is less than $100,000.  If you have other income sources (business income, dividends,
capital gains, taxable social security, etc.) or other unusual circumstances, do not rely on this guide.

Helpful Tips

  • The tax deadline is April 15th
  • Students who received Lang, Evans, Mellon or Swarthmore Foundation special grants are required to pay income tax. Include this amount along with your wages on line 1 of your 1040EZ.
  • Some states will require you to file taxes based on your residency information. You will want to contact your home state's department of revenue for details regarding filing.
  • Each of the 1040 tax forms (1040EZ; 1040A; 1040) has an instruction booklet which should be your primary reference when preparing the federal income tax return. Instruction booklets and tax forms can be downloaded from the IRS website.

SEE THE FOLLOWING PAGES FOR:

Frequently Asked Questions

What do I do first?

Gather all of the 2014 tax-related documents needed to determine if you are required to file: 

  • W-2 Income Statement(s) and or 1099 Interest Statements: Your employer(s) must send you a statement of 2014 wages earned and taxes withheld (Form W-2 or Form 1099). Contact your employer if you do not receive your 2014 W-2 by early February. If you lose your W-2, ask your employer for a new one.
  • 1099-INT: You will receive a 1099-INT from your bank if you earned sufficient reportable interest on an interest bearing checking or savings account.
  • Lang, Evans, Mellon or Swarthmore Foundation special grants: If awarded a 2014 service, enrichment, or summer stipend grant not reflected on a W-2 Statement, record the amount you received (spring '14, summer '14 & fall '14 terms).

Am I required to file a 2014 federal income tax return?

You must file a 2014 return if certain minimum income levels are met.  Remember the "VERY IMPORTANT NOTICE" above?  If you fit that profile you must file a return if any of the following apply:

  • You have 2014 earned income over $6,200. Earned income includes wages and tips (reported on W-2, Box 1), Lang, Evans, Mellon or Swarthmore Foundation special grants.
  • You have 2014 unearned income over $1000. Unearned income includes interest earned on a savings or checking account. You will receive Form 1099-INT from your bank if you have 2014 reportable interest.
  • Your gross income (earned + unearned + unemployment compensation + Alaska Permanent Fund dividends) is more than the larger of (1) $1000 or (2) earned income (up to $5,850) plus $350.

If your income falls below all of the above levels, you are not required to file. However, if federal tax was withheld from your wages (Box 2 of your W-2), you are due a refund - you will want to file

Which tax form should I use?

Most Swarthmore students will use 2014 Form 1040EZ, the simplest of the federal income tax return forms. Use this form if your taxable income is less than $100,000, and your income is only from wages, tips, Lang, Evans, Mellon or Swarthmore Foundation special grants, unemployment compensation, Alaska Permanent Fund dividends, and taxable interest of $1,500 or less.  Use either Form 1040A or Form 1040 if you cannot use Form 1040EZ.  These forms can be downloaded from IRS website. 

What if I had more than one employer during 2014?

You will receive a W-2 income statement from each employer.  Do not file a separate return for each job.  The amount that you enter on Line 1 of the 1040EZ should include all wages from all employers.  This also applies to other sources of income.  For instance, if you received interest from more than one bank during 2014, total all of the interest received for the year, and list it on Line 2 of the 1040EZ form. 

Does the federal government really expect me to pay income tax on Lang, Evans, Mellon or Swarthmore Foundation special grants?

Students receive scholarships/fellowships/grants/stipends/waivers from various sources.  Regardless of the term used, the taxability of scholarship depends on its nature. Scholarship awarded for research, good-works, enrichment, counseling, or any other service, regardless if used to pay tuition, is taxable income.

When is the deadline for filing my federal income tax return?  

The 2014 federal income tax return must be postmarked by April 15th, not necessarily received at the IRS by that date.  Returns filed by means other than the U.S. mail (i.e., by e-file or telephone) must also be filed by April 15th.  If you file after this date, you may have to pay penalties and interest.

If I owe tax, to whom do I make the check payable?

Make your check payable to the United States Treasury. Make sure your name, address, phone # and social security # are on the check face and write the tax year and the correct form name. For example write, "2013 Form 1040-EZ" in the memo section.  The mailing address can be found on the IRS Website and is determined using the state your family resides, not necessarily Pennsylvania.

Should I keep a copy of my return?

Absolutely!  And keep a copy of all attachments, such as your W-2.  It may be necessary to refer to a previous year's tax return or to produce evidence that you submitted a tax return.  You should keep copies of your tax returns for seven years.

Where can I find complete information about how to prepare and file my federal income tax return? 

Each of the 1040 tax forms (1040EZ; 1040A; 1040) has an instruction booklet which should be your primary reference when preparing the federal income tax return.  Instruction booklets and tax forms can be downloaded from the IRS . Also, a sample tax return can be found here.  Finally, there are tax preparation guides available commercially as well as web sites offering for-fee tax return preparation. We do not make recommendations however, see the IRS website for Free File Options 

Do I need to file a state income tax form?

If you earned more than $33 in Pennsylvania in 2014 you must file a Pennsylvania state tax return. Your Pennsylvania taxable income includes only wages you earned in Pennsylvania.  It does not include interest or dividends that you received in 2014.  Also, Pennsylvania does not tax scholarship. Form PA-40 and its instruction booklet can be downloaded from the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue Website.  If you worked in another state, or if your permanent address is in a state other than Pennsylvania you may be required to file a state income tax return with that state.  Check with the tax department of the state you worked/live in. 

What does it cost to file a state income tax form?

Most states allow paper filing for free.  However, electronic filing, even through the IRS Federal Free File website may have a charge. See your state website for specific guidance.

Next academic year I plan to attend a spring '16 study abroad program.  I won't be in the U.S. when it's time to file my 2014 federal tax return. What can I do to make next year's federal income tax process go smoothly?

  • Make sure that the Swarthmore payroll office (as well as any other U.S. employer) has your correct address to forward your W-2 statements. Make the same arrangements for any other tax related income statements. For example, you may arrange to have everything mailed to your home address.
  • You can always download the most current tax forms from the IRS website.

Step By Step Instructions for filing a paper copy of the most common, 1040EZ form:

Links to the Actual IRS 1040, 1040A, and 1040EZ as well as instructions

2013 Federal Income Tax Return Forms & Instructions
Form Instructions
1040EZ [pdf] IRS 1040EZ Instructions [pdf]
1040A [pdf] IRS 1040A Instructions [pdf]
1040 [pdf] IRS 1040 Instructions [pdf]