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What are some credits and deductions students and those with student dependents can take advantage of?
Education Tax Credits & Deductions Overview
As a parent, a guardian of a school-age dependent, a student in K-12 or in college, an adult continuing their education, or a teacher, if you’re involved in the education system in any way, it pays to understand how the tax code might affect your academic career. Here are several credits and deductions you might be able to take advantage of if you’re a student, parent, guardian, or teacher.
Coverdell Education Savings Account (ESA)
You can set up a Coverdell Education Savings Account for a child under the age of 18 if your modified Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) is less than $110,000 as an individual or less than $220,000 for married couples filing a joint return. Anyone, including the child, can contribute to the account during the year. The maximum contribution is $2,000 per beneficiary. Withdrawals will be tax-free when used to pay the beneficiary’s qualified education costs for elementary, secondary, college, or graduate school.
Education Expenses – Tuition Payment Verification
Generally, students will get a Form 1098-T, Tuition Statement, which reports the amount of tuition and required fees paid for/by the student to attend school. The form includes any scholarships or grants received, whether the student is a part-time or graduate student, and if any of the payments were for January through March 2023. Students challenged by the IRS to prove education expenses may need more than the 1098-T issued by their college or university. Receipts from the school showing the amounts paid for tuition and fees can help with verification. Canceled checks or bank statements are also good records. If payments included amounts for charges other than tuition and fees, you should save a copy of billing documents from the school that break down the charges individually.
Educator Expenses – Tax Deductions for Teachers
If you are an elementary or secondary school teacher, instructor, counselor, principal, or aide and you have worked at least 900 hours during a school year, you may deduct up to $300 of the cost of books, supplies, computer equipment (including software and services), and other materials used in the classroom. These expenses can be deducted directly against your income without itemizing deductions. The remaining expenses cannot be deducted. Each qualified taxpayer may deduct up to $300 in expenses on a joint return.
Employer-Provided Educational Expenses
This benefit was restored under the CARES Act. ;This benefit allows education assistance up to $5,250 per year to be provided by an employer to an employee without being taxed. Any additional costs of work-related education expenses are not eligible for deduction since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) eliminated itemized deductions for miscellaneous expenses previously subject to the 2%-of-adjusted-gross-income (AGI) deduction threshold.
Lifetime Learning Credit
If you paid expenses related to college, graduate, or vocational school you may be able to claim the Lifetime Learning Credit. This is a non-refundable credit of up to $2,000 (per return) of qualified tuition, fees, and expenses you paid for yourself, spouse, or a dependent. You do not have to be in a degree program, a full-time student, or in the first four years of post-secondary education. In addition, your modified AGI cannot be more than $90,000 if single or $180,000 for married couples filing a joint return.
Qualified Tuition Program
A Qualified Tuition Program (QTP), also referred to as a 529 plan, allows you to prepay a student's college tuition or contribute to a higher education savings account. Contributions are not tax-deductible on the federal return, but distributions will be tax-free if the distributions are used to pay for qualified higher education expenses. Some states allow a tax deduction for contributions on their state returns.
Student Loan Interest
You may be able to claim a deduction of up to $2,500 for interest paid on a qualified student loan. Only the amount of interest actually paid during the year may be deducted. You cannot claim the deduction in any tax year in which another taxpayer claims you as a dependent. You do not need to itemize to claim this deduction. This amount is subject to a phase-out, on Modified Adjusted Gross Incomes (MAGI) above $85,000 for single taxpayers and $175,000 for married couples filing joint returns.
President Biden signed an Executive Order extending the suspension of student loan payments and interest through December 31, 2022. In addition, taxpayers with an income less than $125,000 ($250,000 if filing jointly) may be eligible for forgiveness of up to $20,000 if they had Pell Grants while in college or up to $10,000 if they did not have Pell Grants. Based on the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP or ARPA), forgiven student loans are generally not taxable income on the federal tax return. Check with your state to see if the forgiveness is taxable.
The Department of Education and the Department of Treasury are working out a plan to limit repayment of loans to less than 5% of your discretionary income.
Tuition and Fee Deductions
The tuition and fees deduction was permanently retired January 1, 2021.