Filing a tax return for college students can be confusing, especially for first time filers. The Indiana Department of Revenue (DOR) wants your tax season to be stress-free and easy, so we've compiled several resources and tax tips just for students.
If you're an international student attending an Indiana college or university, please refer to our International Students page.
Many students qualify to file federal and Indiana tax returns for free by using INfreefile. Vendors use a simple, question and answer format that makes filing taxes faster and easier. Learn more about INfreefile on our FAQ page.
Filing by paper instead? Be sure to follow these steps.
- Do I need to file a tax return?
If you qualify as an Indiana resident and your wages and other income is $1,000 or more, you must file an Indiana tax return.
If you're a nonresident, you must pay taxes on any amount of income earned in Indiana. You must file an Indiana tax return even if you expect to receive a tax refund.
- Can my parents still claim me as a dependent on their taxes if I file a return?
Yes, if they claimed you as a dependent on their federal tax return.
- What if my parents can't or didn't claim me as a dependent on their tax return?
Indiana allows all filers to claim their own personal exemption on a state tax return.
- Can my parents file my taxes for me?
You parents can help you prepare your return, but they cannot sign it for you. Always review your return for accuracy as you are responsible for the information even if someone else prepares the return.
If you'd like us to be able to speak with a parent, guardian or another person about your return, you may designate them as a personal representative on your return. If you are an Indiana resident, you can do so at the bottom of Schedule 7. If you are a nonresident, you can do so on Schedule H. Completing this authoizes a DOR representative to speak with a designated person about anything on that specific tax return.
You may also complete a Power of Attorney Form POA-1 to allow a DOR representative to speak with a designated person on the specific tax types and periods of your choosing.
- I work and attend college out-of-state. Do I have to report that money to Indiana?
Probably. If your income from all sources is more than $1,000, you'll need to file a tax return with Indiana and include the income you earned in outside states. In most cases, you are still an Indiana resident even if you attend school in another state.
You are considered a full-year resident for tax purposes if you maintained a legal place of residence (e.g., a parent or guardian's home) in Indiana from Jan. 1 through Dec. 31. You do not have to be physically present in Indiana the entire year to be considered a full-year resident. Use Form IT-40.
Example: Brittany is a student at Illinois State University. Brittany lives in Illinois during the school year and lives with her parents in Fort Wayne, Ind., when school is not in session. Therefore, Brittany is a full-year Indiana resident.
You may need to file a tax return with the other state as well. Refer to the revenue agency for the state where you worked for more information. If you need to file a tax return with the other state, you may be eligible for a credit for taxes paid to the other states on your Indiana tax return. Note, if you were a full-year resident of Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania or Wisconsin, and your only income from Indiana was from wages, salaries, tips or commissions, you need to file Form IT-40RNR and to report this income.
- What should I do if I'm an out-of-state student working and attending a college or university in Indiana?
Out-of-state students usually maintain their legal state of residence in their home state, as attending school does not change your domicile. Therefore, most out-of-state students earning income in Indiana would file Form IT-40PNR or Form IT-40RNR (see below for more details). However, certain actions may contribute to establishing residency in Indiana such as registering to vote in Indiana, filing an Indiana state tax return, receiving Indiana public assistance, titling and registering a vehicle in Indiana, securing an Indiana driver's license and so on.
If you established Indiana residency during the year, you are a part-year resident, who should use Form IT-40PNR. Note, that if you maintain residency in Indiana in subsequent years, you will become a full-year resident and use Form IT-40.
Example: During the year Logan moved to Indiana from Minnesota. He registered his car in Indiana, got an Indiana driver's license and registered to vote in Indiana. Logan is a part-year Indiana resident.
If you were a full-year resident of most states other than Indiana (or any country outside of the US), you are a full-year nonresident who should use Form IT-40PNR.
If you were a full-year resident of Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania or Wisconsin, and your only income from Indiana was from wages, salaries, tips or commissions, you need to file Form IT-40RNR for Reciprocal Nonresidents. If you had any other type of income from Indiana, use Form IT-40PNR.
Example: Sean, who is from Missouri, attends college in Indiana (and pays nonresident tuition). Sean is a full-year nonresident, even though he lives in Indiana for nine months of the year.
- I'm a student from Indiana and currently studying abroad through an Indiana college or university. Do I need to file my state taxes?
Yes. Generally, Indiana residents are subject to tax on all their income, regardless of where they are located or from where the income originates.
- I'm an out-of-state student studying abroad through an Indiana college or university. Do I need to file an Indiana tax return?
Unless you earned income in Indiana, you do not need to file an Indiana tax return if you are a resident of another state.
- What should I do if I'm in the National Guard or a reserve component of the armed forces and attending college?
- Do I need to pay local or county taxes?
If you lived or worked in Indiana on Jan. 1, you will need to pay the appropriate county tax.
An individual may be subject to county tax in Indiana even if they are not an Indiana or US resident.
In general, an individual will be treated as a county resident for county tax purposes based on the following:
- Where the individual maintains a home (if he or she has only one home, this includes those who own or rent);
- If that does not apply, then where the individual is registered to vote;
- If neither of the above applies, then where the individual registers his or her vehicle;
- If none of the above apply, then where the individual spends the majority of his or her time in Indiana during the tax year in question.
Those Indiana nonresident students who first attend college beginning sometime after Jan. 1 of the year will not be considered county residents for that first year.
Likewise, nonresident students attending the fall semester (followed by the spring semester), will be considered residents of the county as of that Jan. 1 and are subject to county tax.
- What should I do if I end up owing taxes and can't pay what I owe?
Students are responsible for paying any tax due, even if the university/employer does not withhold the proper amount of taxes.
Pay as much as you can by the April deadline to reduce the amount of penalty and interest that will be due. As soon as you receive a bill from DOR, call the number on the bill to see what payment options may be available.
You can make payments online and see if you qualify for a payment plan through INtax.
- I got a letter in the mail asking me to take an Identity Confirmation Quiz. What should I do?
Selected individuals will receive a letter requesting them to confirm their identities by taking a short quiz either by telephone or online. It is important to open the letter and take the quiz as soon as possible to get your return in a timely manner. See our Identity Confirmation Program for more information.
- I moved since the last time I filed my taxes, do I need to update my address with DOR?
Don’t forget to change your address with DOR. DOR does not contact customers by phone or email for important tax matters, so it is important that your mailing address is correct.
- Where can I go if I need more help?