The Tuition Tax Deduction

The Tuition Tax Deduction

Turns out the government likes to encourage good behavior.  We’ve already seen that they like you to make your home more green so they offer home improvement tax credits.  They also like you to go to college so they offer deductions if you paid tuition and fees at a post secondary school.

The Tuition and Fees Deduction is claimed on IRS form 8917.  You can reduce your taxable income by subtracting tuition and fees paid for education.  There are a few hoops to jump through, as far as qualifying so let’s go down the list: how to get the tuition tax deduction.

Qualifying for the Tuition Tax Deduction

  1. The student must be a qualifying student.
  2. The educational institution must also qualify.
  3. Also, you cannot double dip by claiming the expenses on IRS form 8917 and also claiming the American opportunity or lifetime learning credit on Form 8863.  You can only claim educational expenses once on your federal taxes.
  4. The expenses must qualify
  5. Your filing status must qualify
  6. Your modified adjusted gross income must qualify
  7. Your resident alien status must qualify

A Closer Look: Qualifying for the Tuition & Fees Tax Deduction

For some reason, you cannot claim this deduction if you are married filing separately.  You also cannot claim it if somebody else is claiming you as a dependent.  This usually means you aren’t going to be claiming this deduction if you are a traditional-age college student because you parents will probably already be getting this deduction.  Even if they don’t use IRS form 8917, you still can’t claim this deduction if you are a depended for tax purposes.

If your modified adjusted gross income is more than $80,000 (double that for married filing jointly), you can kiss the Tuition and Fees deduction goodbye.  You make too much.

If you were a nonresident alien for even just one day and you didn’t submit a form to be treated as a resident alien for tax purposes, you can also forget about this deduction.

Also, you cannot claim it if you are also claiming either the American opportunity or lifetime learning credit.  That’s double dipping.

The educational institution must qualify, and the expenses must be required expenses for enrollment and paid during the tax year.  Room & board don’t count and neither do insurance, medical, transportation, or anything else that’s personal.  Also, no sports courses or hobby courses count.

So, if you’ve read the list of qualifications and you still might make it, fill out form 8917 and get a tax break from the IRS.