Question Wednesday
Nicole Dieker

I have a complicated financial life, and I’m wondering what I should do to be sure I’m set tax-wise for the year. Basic summary:

  • I’m a full-time grad student, renter, unmarried, paying interest on student loans. I’ll make about $30–35K gross this year.
  • At the end of 2017, I’ll get three W-2s, two 1099-MISCs, and a tax form from my school that reflects that I pay my own tuition, get some untaxed tuition credit, and get some taxed tuition credit (can explain how this works out if this makes a difference).
  • I started filling out the form (1040-ES) to determine if I needed to pay quarterly income tax. I’m a sharp kid and have done ~10 hours of research on this, and I still can’t figure out how some of the boxes apply to me, given my complicated life above.
  • At this point, I think I have two options: (1) cross my fingers this will all work out and pay a fine when I file my taxes if I need to, or (2) talk to an EA/CPA to get this figured out. I’m liquid enough that it wouldn’t be an issue to cover the cash for a fine/money owed for taxes.

Here’s my question: given all this, I think I’d rather go with option #1: I don’t think the fine I’d need to pay would be hire than the cost of hiring a tax professional. Is that crazy?