College Tuition Tax Deduction

Paid tuition for college and want to take a tuition tax deduction for it? Check out the Tuition and Fees Deduction to see if you can benefit from it.

Please note: This credit expired at the end of 2016. All information is only for tax year 2016 and earlier.

Here are some pointers that can help you:

How much can be deducted?

The tuition and fees deduction will give you up to $4000- deduction on your tax return. If you take this deduction, your adjusted gross income will be less with the amount of college tuition paid or $4000- whichever is lower.

Who can claim the deduction?

The student for whom the tuition was paid can be you or your spouse or your dependent. If you or your spouse is the student it doesn't matter if the tuition was paid by you or others.

But if the student is your dependent you can only claim this credit if you paid the tuition yourself (borrowed funds are considered to be paid by you but you have to claim the deduction the year it was paid to the institution not when you paid for the loan). If your dependent or any other party paid the tuition and fees nobody can claim the tuition tax deduction for this student. However since you can claim the student as a dependent you might be able to one of the education tax credits like American Opportunity Credit or Lifetime Learning Credit.

You also cannot claim this credit if your are married filing separately, a dependent, or earn more than the specified amounts.

Which expenses qualify?

Only amounts that are required for enrollment or attendance to an accredited post-secondary education institution qualify for this tax tuition deduction. Course-related expenses like books, supplies and equipment only qualify if they are a condition of the enrollment.

Is there a special from that you need to file?

You need to file form 8917, where you will put in the student's information and make all the necessary calculations to get the exact deduction amount you qualify for.

Should you take this tuition tax deduction?

Even if you are eligible for the Tuition and Fees Deduction you might want to take an education credit instead. Since you can only take one education benefit for each student you can check to see which one will give you the largest tax benefit and choose that one to file.

As noted above, this credit expired December 31, 2016.

Do you need more information?


Publication 970

Updated January 4, 2018

Tax Help Tax Deductions > Tuition and Fees Deduction

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