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How to file FAFSA without parents filing income tax?

jdel40jdel40 6 replies1 postsRegistered User New Member
So, my parents haven’t filed taxes in about 3 or 4 years. During that time, the have filed our name (my sisters and i) under my uncles name so they can get some money. Now that college is coming close i don’t know what to do with the FAFSA. I am first generation college student and have no idea how the process goes. Both parents are also immigrants and are illegal. What can i do to file the FAFSA and get some help?
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Replies to: How to file FAFSA without parents filing income tax?

  • thumper1thumper1 73755 replies3215 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 3
    Your parents could NOT have filed your name under your uncles on the income taxes. Your UNCLE would have needed to do so. And there are some pretty firm guidelines regarding whether this is allowed...or not.

    @BelknapPoint your thoughts?

    The big question is...did your parents have income and were they required to file income taxes and just didn’t? What is the deal. Did they just not file taxes when required? Or did they have NO income?

    How did your parents pay their bills if they had no income?
    edited August 3
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  • jdel40jdel40 6 replies1 postsRegistered User New Member
    My father is the only one that works and has a regular income but hasn’t filed. He works under the table and is able to take care of us. Im usually confused in this area
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  • thumper1thumper1 73755 replies3215 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Oh these webs that get woven.

    Even if your father gets paid under the table, he is supposed to file a tax return...and that would be as a self employed person...if his income exceeds the threshold for required filing. He just can’t decide not to file if his earnings are such that he should be.

    Regarding getting paid under the table...there are lots of issues with this...you are facing one (no taxes filed). Frankly, this should not be happening.

    I’m not sure how this can be reconciled. The FAFSA for 2020-2021 will require tax year info from 2018. If you put $0 income for that year for your parents, there is no question you will be selected for verification. The schools will justifiably want to know how your family paid their living expenses with $0 in income"..and you will need to have a documented explanation for this.

    Hoping @BelknapPoint chimes in at some point...

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  • SybyllaSybylla 3562 replies40 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    YOU are a citizen though?
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  • jdel40jdel40 6 replies1 postsRegistered User New Member
    Yes
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  • jdel40jdel40 6 replies1 postsRegistered User New Member
    What would i do at verification?
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  • MWolfMWolf 1283 replies8 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    First, even if your uncle claims you on his taxes, if he is not your legal guardian, you do not use his returns on your FAFSA. Basically, you need your parent's tax information and social security numbers on your FAFSA.

    If your parents are not willing to provide that information (or cannot), you write on the FAFSA form that you cannot provide your parents' tax information. However, if your parents are your legal guardians and you do not have their information on the FAFSA form, you cannot get Federal Aid, except for unsubsidized loans. Colleges may, however, provide you with financial aid.

    As for having your parents' information on the FAFSA form - although immigration enforcement agencies have not yet requested FAFSA parent or student information, they can and the Department of Education can legally provide them that information.
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  • jdel40jdel40 6 replies1 postsRegistered User New Member
    So, if my parents haven’t done taxes, is there any possible way i could do another form of help?
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  • austinmshauriaustinmshauri 8739 replies321 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 3
    The only sources of aid I know of are federal grants (which students get from filing the FAFSA) or institutional aid (need based awards and/or merit grants) from the colleges which are calculated using the FAFSA and/or the CSS Profile. The CSS Profile is another financial application that asks for more than the FAFSA does.

    What state are you in? Are there any schools you can commute to from home?
    edited August 3
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  • thumper1thumper1 73755 replies3215 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Basically, you need your parent's tax information and social security numbers on your FAFSA.

    Do these parents have SS numbers? They are not U.S. citizens...so likely would use zeros instead of the SS number on the FAFSA form....if income is zero.

    @happymomof1 is that correct?

    It sounds like these parents DO have income...paid under the table. They need to put down any income they have on the FAFSA forms. That they haven’t filed taxes is another issue.

    Frankly, they are expecting U.S. federally funded need based aid for this student (who is absolutely able to apply for this) but they think it’s OK NOT to file and pay taxes if required to do so?

    @mommdc do you have any ideas?
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  • jdel40jdel40 6 replies1 postsRegistered User New Member
    I’m in texas and im planning to go to my school to ask more questions
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  • jdel40jdel40 6 replies1 postsRegistered User New Member
    I have been issuing this issue to my parents since my sophomore year but have always gotten ignored since they really didn’t know much of the enrollment process.
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  • sybbie719sybbie719 20683 replies1989 postsSuper Moderator Super Moderator
    Even if your parents are not citizens, they can and should file taxes to help legitimize their status in the US (especially should there ever become a pathway for them to gain citizenship/permanent residency).
    As @thumper1 stated, no matter how they make their money, they should have filed taxes. There are organizations that will help undocumented people with setting up individual TINs and filing taxes. This way the would just contact the IRS for an IRS transcript or an IRS statement of non-filing (if they did not make enough to file taxes, or did not owe taxes).
    When filing the fafsa, they would just place all 0's in the section for the social security number.
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  • Texasmom2001Texasmom2001 33 replies6 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    I would contact the financial aid office at a local college. I would expect they will know a LOT more than your high school.
    If you are a senior this year, I would wait a few weeks and let thing settle down at the beginning of the college semester and then contact a college financial aid office.
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  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone 22422 replies14 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Your parents will have to file with a mailed in FAFSA, they will not be able to do it online. They print off the fAFSA and answer all the questions, filling in 000-00-0000 for SSN. The rest of the information they should fill in correctly - income, assets, etc. even if they have no back up documentation. As stated above, it is likely (very likely) your file will be flagged for verification. They will send you a questionnaire asking for a break down of your bills and income. If the answers to the questions are that there is no income and you live with relatives, that's what you answer.

    You aren't the first student in this situation. I bet your high school counselors will know how to complete the forms or be able to direct you to help.
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  • thumper1thumper1 73755 replies3215 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    If your parents were required to file taxes in 2018, that is the year they should start their back filing with. That is the tax year you will need for the 2020-2021 year. Is there another trusted relative you could ask for help?
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  • kelsmomkelsmom 15519 replies98 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    I am going to respond to the OP in this manner: If your parents earned money and were required to file taxes, and if they did not, they will be asked to complete a non-filer statement if you are selected for verification. On that statement, they must certify the amount of income that was earned. If they report income in excess of the IRS filing requirement, they will be required to file in order for you to get aid.
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 28768 replies56 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    I think what has happened here is that OP’s uncle is claiming OP and sister as dependents. If they live with the uncle and he has been providing more than half their support, he can legitimately claim them as dependents. There are age and income requirements as well, which are probably easily met if these two students are under age 17. It may all be good. If the parents are not making enough money to cover more than half their children’s support , and Uncle is living with them and is, well, that is perfectly legitimate. If not, this is a tax issue.

    However, for FAFSA, it’s a whole other story. FAFSA doesn’t care who is supporting you when it comes to filling out your forms. Unless you have a court appointed guardian, your parents have to be part of this form. Whether you are living with them or not, whether they are supporting you or not. If your parents did not file tax returns because they did not have to do so, they would still be filling out their part of the FAFSA. They would check the box that says they will not be filling out a tax return. They will use 0s in place of SSNs. They also should get ITINs from the IRS by filling out W7s, each of them. They need to get a Verification of Non filing Letter from the IRS. They can get one by Filing a Form 4506T which is why they need a an ITIN I suggest you google this and look it up, help them fill it out. Without ITINs, they can fill in “APPLIED FOR until they get them.

    I believe the law requires that have ITINs even if they do not have to file taxes. They will almost certainly have to verify income to colleges. If they get only money under the table, they may have to sign some verification of what they earned in 2018 if they have no proof of income.

    Alternately, they can fill out a form 2018 1040 using APPLIED FOR in SSN space— and file for those ITINs at the same time. If they are married filing jointly and made under $24k in 2018, they owed zero taxes.

    It is entirely possible that all of this is legitimate in your family situation, and I am going to assume this is so. Perhaps you do live with your uncle and he is paying more than half your expenses so he can legitimately claim you as dependents and get the tax credits he gets having qualifying kids as dependents. Perhaps your parents made less than the reporting requirement. They most likely should have gotten ITINs, however. Do read up on them.

    Now here is the tricky part: if your uncle was paying for your support, I believe that had to be listed as such, and it is listed as income to YOU which gets assessed more harshly than if he were gifting your parents money. The problem is if he’s claiming you as a dependent, he’s paying YOUR support but without a court order to do so. If the amount is over $6750(?) for you, then half of that goes straight to your EFC. In fact that ~$6K figure/limit (changes each year and I don’t know exact amount) included YOUR earnings as well.

    I know this is confusing, but if your parents are to have some path for legal residence here, an essential first step is getting those ITINs and starting to file taxes whether they have to do so or not. For college financial aid, it’s easier just to have that tax return than having to go over income numbers with Financial aid. Each school may have their own rules on how they substantiate what your parents make, and getting cash paymentsis difficult to prove amounts.
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  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone 22422 replies14 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    but if your parents are to have some path for legal residence here, an essential first step is getting those ITINs and starting to file taxes whether they have to do so or not.

    Where do you get this from?

    If the parent are undocumented by the children are citizens, I have to assume the parents have been in the US for 16+ years. Getting an ITIN is not going to get them "on a path of legal residence"

    We can't recommend your parents file taxes or take any other steps to clean up prior tax issues, and can only tell you what you will need to complete the FAFSA (manual completion of the forms using 000-00-0000 for parents) and what the school will expect for verification (some statement of income and assets, maybe IRS verification of non-filer status).
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