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What's the tax damage for a student summer intern?
June 12, 2007 11:41 AM   Subscribe

Allowances? Exemptions? I'm a student summer intern and totally new to taxes - can anyone provide just a little insight as to what I should do?

I'm an engineering student and working as a summer intern in CA, and for the first time taking care of things like federal/state W-4s and such. How can I go about minimizing the damage, and am I eligible for any type of refund at a later date as a student working through college?

Sorry that this is one of those potentially huge "young person with financial issues" questions, so let's limit the scope of this discussion to taxes within the scope of a summer internship.

Thanks for your help!
posted by boscord to Work & Money (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
A lot is going to depend on whether or not you're claimed as a dependent on someone else's tax return (i.e. your parents') — you might want to add that information to your post before the answers start in earnest.
posted by Johnny Assay at 11:51 AM on June 12, 2007


This isn't huge at all. You just need to follow the directions on the W-4 and fill it in accurately.

You need to talk to your parents about whether they've been claiming you on their tax forms, and whether they're going to claim you on their tax forms. If they're going to, this is their problem.

Assuming you're not married and your parents don't claim you on their taxes, this means write the following on the top part your W-4:[NOT TAX PREPARER-IST]

1
1
0
0
0
0
0
2

And then fill in the bottom part as appropriate. That's it. You're done.

Next spring, you'll get stuff from the IRS. Fill out form 1040EZ. It'll take about 1--5 minutes. If you have no other income -- including no interest income, stock income, mutual fund income -- then you can reasonably expect to get just about all of your withholding back.

In real life, it is likely that your parents can and will claim you as a dependent, and that this will be their problem.

Alternatively, ask the payroll people or your boss how you should fill it out. They've seen a billion people just like you pass through.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:54 AM on June 12, 2007


Depending on how much you're making, it might be more sensible for your parents to claim you as a dependent. That's how it was when I did my internships; not only was it true, but it saved them way more money than it would have saved me, meaning we paid less total taxes. Of course, YMMV, especially if your relationship with your parents isn't so friendly as that, but it's worth considering (rather than brushing it off as "their problem").

Either way, it's fairly straightforward; at the end of your term of employment you'll receive a statement showing total income and withholding, and use that to fill out the 1040 early next year, as ROU said.
posted by Lady Li at 1:29 PM on June 12, 2007


In real life, it is likely that your parents can and will claim you as a dependent, and that this will be their problem.

Your parents claiming you as a dependent does not make it their problem if you have too little tax withheld. It makes it your problem.
posted by oaf at 4:07 PM on June 12, 2007


Um. In that case, it wouldn't it be your parents' 1040 that was fucked up, not yours? And your parents who had to write a check to the IRS because of it, not you?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:24 PM on June 12, 2007


In that case, it wouldn't it be your parents' 1040 that was fucked up, not yours?

If your parents claim you as a dependent, and are actually providing more than half of your living expenses, then it's your return that's messed up, not theirs.
posted by oaf at 5:36 PM on June 12, 2007


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