Filling out tax forms a daunting task for some locals

— When tax season rolls around, teachers can get into some of the same bad habits for which they chide their students.

"I'm dreading doing my taxes," said Chappell Marmon, a 23-year-old English teacher at the Lowell Whiteman School.

Marmon, who said she has been putting off filling out the forms for weeks, plans to do her taxes by herself, but admits, "I don't know how to do them."

Understanding the tax system, with its rules about tips, deductions and residency issues, is of great importance to young people who have just lost their dependency status and may be working service-sector jobs for low wages.

But by all accounts, many young people in Steamboat Springs don't know the first thing about filling out the forms that can oftentimes get them large refunds on money that has been trickling out of their paychecks.

Or, if they have been working in industries such as construction, some young people will need to fill out 1099 forms, making them pay their taxes all at once which can sometimes be a daunting prospect for a young person.

Darla Haptonstall, the president of the Steamboat H&R Block, said she has been dealing with a number of construction workers who were unsure how to do their taxes in the past few weeks. She said young people often fill out their forms incorrectly and do not get as large a refund as they are eligible for.

Certain classes at Steamboat Springs High School, in fact, get youngsters ready to tackle the complex forms before they may even have a job.

In classes such as careers, life management and accounting, teachers sometimes go over tax forms with students, said guidance counselor Mike Campbell.

Gayle Dudley, who teaches a careers class at the high school, said she spent a whole class on filling out 1040ez forms, guiding students through the process and allowing them to try to complete the forms themselves.

"Our goal is that the kids can do their own taxes and are as self-sufficient as possible," Dudley said.

These days, the IRS allows taxpayers to complete tax forms online and offers tips on how to do it.

There are still a lot of benefits to meeting with a professional, though, Haptonstall said.

"The Internet can't ask you a question and, upon getting an answer, expound on it," she said.

"And," she added, breaking into a wide grin, "the Internet doesn't smile."

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