Education Tax Credits

The Internal Revenue Code provides both tax credits and deductions that may be taken to reduce the federal income tax burden for students or those paying the costs of a students higher education. Briefly, credits directly reduce the amount of income tax owed, while deductions reduce the amount of taxable income upon which income taxes are computed. Per IRS regulation, the UW reports all tuition charges, financial aid, grant or scholarship payment information for students on the 1098T.

The UW does not report any payment information to the IRS since students may pay other fees on their student accounts. Information is reported for the current calendar year only. Amounts prepaid for future quarters/years will not be reported.

Expenses for books, supplies and/or equipment are not reported to the IRS. Students must keep the receipts and report these expenses when filing a tax return.

American Opportunity Credit

  • Applies to the first four years of post-secondary education
  • Tax credit of up to $2,500 of the cost of qualified tuition and related expenses paid during the taxable year
  • Based on 100% of the first $2,000, plus 25% of the next $2,000 of tuition, fees, and course materials paid during the taxable year
  • Qualified tuition and related expenses has been expanded to include expenditures for “course materials”
  • Eligibility is limited to taxpayers with adjusted gross income of $90,000 or less ($180,000 or less for joint filers)

Lifetime Learning Credit

Eligibility and limitations:
  • up to $2,000 a year available for all years of postsecondary education and for courses to acquire or improve job skills
  • there is no limit on the number of years the credit can be claimed for each student
  • eligibility is limited to taxpayers with adjusted gross income of $63,000 or less for single ($127,000 or less for joint filers)
Amounts:
  • up to $2,000 of qualified education expenses

The Lifetime Learning Tax Credit allows students or the parents of dependent students to claim a credit for qualified education expenses paid for all students enrolled in eligible educational institutions, including the UW. This credit is nonrefundable. This credit lets taxpayers claim a maximum credit of $2,000 per taxpayer (20% of up to $10,000 paid in higher education expenses) for payments made in the calendar year. It is available to parents of dependent students or to students who are NOT claimed as dependents on their parents’ federal tax return. The maximum credit is $2,000 per family, not per student. Taxpayers CANNOT take more than one credit in the same year for the same student.

If you are unable to claim the AMERICAN OPPORTUNITY or LIFETIME Learning Tax Credits, you may still be able to deduct qualified higher education expenses from your income. For those earning $80,000 or less a year ($160,000 if married and filing jointly), you may deduct up to $4,000 per year of qualified tuition and fees paid to the UW.

The preceding information and that which follows is for general information only, and does not constitute tax advice. For your convenience we have provided links to Other Useful Web Sites. Because income tax rules are complicated, it may be helpful to consult with the IRS, directly, or a tax advisor.

Who Is Eligible For The Education Tax Credits

The full value of the tax credits is available to:

  • married taxpayers filing jointly with a modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) of $127,000 or less
  • single taxpayers with a MAGI of $63,000 or less for calendar year 2013

Taxpayers with a low tax liability may not be able to take all the credits, as the credits are nonrefundable, thus limited to taxpayers’ total federal income tax obligation. Tax liability is the total amount of tax due; including both the balance due with the filing of the tax return and amounts paid throughout the year such as those from wage withholding and estimated tax payments.

Comparison of Education Credits

Caution: If you have more than one student eligible for the American opportunity credit , you must claim the same credit for all eligible students. You may claim both the American opportunity credit and the lifetime learning credit on the same return—but not for the same student.
  American Opportunity Credit - NEW Lifetime Learning Credit
Maximum credit Up to $2,500 credit per eligible student Up to $2,000 credit per return
Limit on modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) $180,000 if married filing jointly; $90,000 if single, head of household, or qualifying widow(er) $127,000 if married filing jointly;
$63,000 if single, head of household, or qualifying widow(er)
Refundable or nonrefundable 40% of credit may be refundable Credit limited to the amount of tax you must pay on your taxable income
Number of years of postsecondary education Available ONLY if the student had not completed the first 4 years of postsecondary education before 2013 Available for all years of postsecondary education and for courses to acquire or improve job skills
Number of tax years credit available Available ONLY for 4 tax years per eligible student (including any years(s) the Hope credit was claimed) Available for an unlimited number of years
Type of program required Student must be pursuing an undergraduate degree or other recognized education credential Student does not need to be pursuing a degree or other recognized education credential
Number of courses Students must be enrolled at least half time for at least one academic period beginning during the tax year Available for one or more courses
Felony drug conviction At the end of 2013, the student had not been convicted of a felony for possessing or distributing a controlled substance Felony drug convictions do not make the student ineligible
Qualified expenses Tuition, required enrollment fees, and course materials that the student needs for a course of study whether or not the materials are bought at the educational institution as a condition of enrollment or attendance Tuition and fees required for enrollment or attendance (including amounts required to be paid to the institution for course-related books, supplies, and equipment)
Payments for academic periods Payments made in 2013 for academic periods beginning in 2013 and in the first 3 months of 2014

Qualified Education Expenses

Generally, qualified education expenses are amounts paid in 2013 for tuition and fees required for the student’s enrollment or attendance at an eligible educational institution. It does not matter whether the expenses were paid in cash, by check, by credit or debit card, or with borrowed funds.

Only certain expenses for course-related books, supplies and equipment qualify.

  • American opportunity credit: Qualified education expenses include amounts spent on books, supplies and equipment needed for a course of study, whether or not the materials are purchased from the educational institution as a condition of enrollment or attendance.
  • Lifetime learning credit: Qualified education expenses include amounts for books, supplies and equipment only if required to be paid to the institution as a condition of enrollment or attendance.

Qualified education expenses do not include amounts paid for:

  • Room and board, insurance, medical expenses (including student health fees), transportation or other similar personal, living, or family expenses.
  • Any course or other education involving sports, games or hobbies, or any noncredit course, unless such course or other education is part of the student’s degree program or (for the lifetime learning credit only) helps the student acquire or improve job skills.

Qualified Education expenses for any academic period must be reduced by tax-free grants, scholarships, fellowships, tuition exemptions and employer-provided educational assistance.

For questions regarding tuition charges, scholarships or financial aid recorded on the Student Database, email taxquest@uw.edu, or call 206-221-2621.

University Reporting of Expenses and Aid Received

The University compiles information of qualified Education expenses charged and grant aid received for all students who were registered during the calendar year. This information is reported to the IRS.

If more information on the specific information reported to students is needed, call Student Fiscal Services at (206) 221-2621during normal business hours, or email taxquest@uw.edu

Obtaining Your 1098T Information

The University of Washington will mail you an IRS Form 1098T at the end of January. If you are registered for Winter quarter, the form will be mailed to your billing address, otherwise it will be sent to your permanent address.

You may also print the information contained on the 1098T from MyUW Student Finances tab under the Tax category. As you do not submit this form to the IRS, an official form is not necessary to claim the tax credits.

Claiming the Credits

Use IRS Form 8863 to determine the amount of the credit. Be sure to read the instructions that accompany the form.

If you need further assistance, contact the IRS or a tax advisor. The University CANNOT provide assistance regarding your eligibility and/or the calculation of the credit.

Education Savings Account (ESA)

Taxpayers can invest up to $2,000 a year for each child under age 18. All earnings are entirely tax free, if they are used to finance a higher education.

Please review IRS publication 970 for specific information.

IRA Withdrawal

The Internal Revenue Code allows people under the age of 59 1/2 to withdraw money for higher education expenses from a regular IRA or the new Roth IRA without paying a penalty for early distribution. However, tax may be owed on at least part of the amount distributed. These funds may be used for the taxpayer’s own higher education expenses, or for those of their spouse, child or grandchild.

Deduction for Interest on Education Loans

Taxpayers may deduct up to $2,500 in student loan interest paid in the previous tax year. The interest paid on the student loans may be for the taxpayer, the taxpayer’s spouse or dependent. You cannot take a student loan deduction if your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) is $75,000 or more ($150,000 or more if you are married and file a joint return).

Tuition and Fees Deduction

You may be able to deduct qualified tuition and related expenses paid during the year for yourself, your spouse, or a dependent. You cannot claim this deduction if your filing status is married filing separately or if another person is entitled to claim an exemption for you as a dependent on his or her tax return. You cannot claim this deduction if your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) is $80,000 or more ($160,000 or more if you are married and file a joint return), or if you were a nonresident alien for any part of the year and did not elect to be treated as a resident alien for tax purposes.

The tuition and fees deduction can reduce the amount of your taxable income by up to $4,000. This deduction is taken as an adjustment to taxable income. This means you can claim this deduction even if you do not itemize deductions on Schedule A (Form 1040). This deduction may be beneficial to taxpayers who cannot take either of the education credits because their income is too high. Please review IRS Publication 970 for specific information and use Form 8917 for calculation.

Other Useful Resources

Other resources that you might find useful for further information on the tax credits include:

Frequently Asked Questions about the American Opportunity and Lifetime Learning tax credits.

© 2014 Finance & Facilities, University of Washington     PRIVACYTERMS