18 Mar The FAFSA when the IRS is asking questions
Q. I’m the parent of a son who is graduating from high school this year. He’s trying to fill out the FAFSA. Last year my husband and I filed separately. While his return is complete, mine is under review by the IRS. What should we do for the FAFSA?
A. The FAFSA can be confusing, but a situation like yours makes it even more of a challenge to complete.
First, though, we want to make sure you and your son are using the correct year’s tax returns.
Prior to 2017, FAFSA filers needed to include the most recent year’s tax information, said Thomas Mullooly, CEO of Mullooly Asset Management in Wall.
He said this prompted many parents of college-bound students to hastily complete their tax returns – primarily so they could submit the FAFSA.
“In 2017, the tax information required was changed to the previous tax year,” Mullooly said. “So – like in your situation – the parent of a Fall 2019 college student would be using 2017 tax information on the FAFSA.”
So we’re going to assume you’re referring to 2017 tax returns.
Mullooly said some colleges and universities can prepare a “preliminary” award package based on the incomplete information, but these schools will want to have the actual data from your taxes, once completed, before granting a final award package for your student.
So you have submitted a tax return.
The FAFSA gives four possible responses about your tax situation: will file, not required to file, authorized extension of time or unauthorized failure to file.
Based on the information in your question, it appears you were required to file a return, so this eliminates the first two options, Mullooly said.
You did submit a return, so this also eliminates the fourth choice.
That leaves you with the third option: authorized extension of time.
“Since the returns are `under review’ with the IRS, it appears option three would be the most suitable response, although not a perfect reply,” he said.
We recommend you follow up with each college’s financial aid office to explain the situation so they can put a note in your son’s file.
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This story was originally published in March 2019.
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