If you are a graduate student, How to Complete Your Grad Student Tax Return (and Understand It, Too!) will help you create an accurate tax return with the least stress possible. This workshop will serve you well whether you ultimately prepare your tax return manually, with tax software, or through a tax preparer.
Fellowship recipients, if you aren’t having income tax automatically withheld from your stipend/salary, you may be responsible for paying quarterly estimated tax. You should use Form 1040-ES to calculate whether you have to pay estimated tax and in what amount. For help with Form 1040-ES, check out my year-round, asynchronous workshop!
Articles Updated for 2021
How to Prepare Your Grad Student Tax Return (Tax Year 2021): A full, detailed, and step-by-step explanation of how grad students should prepare their tax returns, covering the various income types a grad student receives and the education benefits available.
The Complete Guide to Quarterly Estimated Tax for Fellowship Recipients: A long-form article explaining everything from what estimated tax is and who has to pay it to how to calculate your payment to how to make your payment.
Fellowship and Training Grant Tax Forms: A crowd-sourced list of how numerous fellowships and training grants are reported or not reported at tax time.
Why Is My Fellowship Tax Bill So High?!: A video (with transcript) explaining why graduate students and postdocs often face large, unexpected tax bills.
What to Do When Facing a Huge Fellowship Tax Bill: A video (with transcript) explaining what to do when facing a large tax bill due to your fellowship—especially if you can’t pay it immediately.
What Is a Courtesy Letter?: A quick explanation of the informal letter that many fellows receive.
Weird Tax Situations for Fellowship Recipients: An article for fellowship recipients (grad students and non-students) on the unusual effects fellowship income has on your taxes.
Is Fellowship Income Eligible to Be Contributed to an IRA?: The IRS hasn’t globally updated its language to reflect the eligibility of fellowship income to be contributed to an Individual Retirement Arrangement (IRA). Is this income type considered “taxable compensation” or not?
Where to Report Your PhD Trainee Income on Your Tax Return: A detailed list of which lines on your tax return you should report W-2 (employee) and non-W-2 (awarded) PhD-related income.
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Older Resources Last Updated for 2018-2020 (But Still Largely Accurate)
Where to Find Completely Free Help on Your Tax Return: An annotated list of 100% free sources of information and assistance in preparing your tax return. The IRS offers multiple forms of help, and there are also other online and community resources available.
What Your University Isn’t Telling You About Your Income Tax: A podcast episode (with transcript) that fills in the gaps in communication and counters the misinformation that PhD trainees often encounter at universities.
Weird Tax Situations for Fully Funded Grad Students: An article for funded graduate students on the unexpected effects a ‘student’ status has on your taxes.
Fellowship Income Can Trigger the Kiddie Tax: Young graduate students (under age 24) who receive fellowship income may be subject to the Kiddie Tax. The Kiddie Tax rate is calculated from your parents’ marginal tax rate instead of your graduated tax rates. If your parents are in an equal or higher tax bracket than you, you may end up paying much more in federal income tax if you receive a fellowship rather than W-2 income. This article explains who the Kiddie Tax applies to and how to calculate it.
The First Step to Complete Your Grad Student Tax Return (2018): A video detailing what tax forms you can expect to receive (or not receive) during tax time and how to process your income numbers before you enter them into your tax return, plug them into tax software, or pass them to your tax preparer.
Do I Owe Income Tax on My Fellowship?: A short podcast episode explaining how fellows, both graduate students and non-students, know whether their fellowship income is taxable.
Form 1098-T: Still Causing Trouble for Funded Graduate Students: Form 1098-T was revamped between 2017 and 2018, which will be a great improvement in 2019 and following. For many funded graduate students, 2018 is a troublesome year with respect to their 1098-T numbers.
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