Understanding tax deductions
Tuition and Fees Deduction
You may be able to deduct qualified education expenses paid during the year for yourself, your spouse or your dependent. You cannot claim this deduction if your filing status is married filing separately or if another person can claim an exemption for you as a dependent on his or her tax return. The qualified expenses must be for higher education.
The Tuition and Fees Deduction can reduce the amount of your income subject to tax by up to $4,000. This deduction, reported on Form 8917, Tuition and Fees Deduction, is taken as an adjustment to income. This means you can claim this deduction even if you do not itemize deduction on Schedule A (Form 1040). This deduction may be beneficial to you if, for example, you cannot take the Lifetime Learning Credit because your income is too high. You may be able to take one of the education credits instead of a Tuition and Fees Deduction. You can choose the one that will give you the lower tax.
Generally, you can claim the Tuition and Fees Deduction if all three of the following requirements are met:
- You pay qualified education expenses of higher education.
- You pay the education expenses for an eligible student.
- The eligible student is yourself, your spouse, or your dependent for whom you claim an exemption on your tax return.
You cannot claim the Tuition and Fees Deduction if any of the following apply:
- Your filing status is married filing separately.
- Another person can claim an exemption for you as a dependent on his or her tax return.
- Your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) is more than $80,000 ($160,000 if filing a joint return).
- 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. More information on non resident aliens can be found in Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens.
- You or anyone else claims an education credit for expenses of the student for whom the qualified education expenses were paid.
Student-activity fees and expenses for course-related books, supplies and equipment are included in qualified education expenses only if the fees and expenses must be paid to the institution as a condition of enrollment or attendance.