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Tuition and Fees Deduction

The tuition and fees deduction reduces the amount of your taxable income by up to $4,000 . The deduction expires on Dec. 31, 2013. This deduction is an adjustment to income. So, you can claim the deduction even if you don't itemize deductions.  

The tuition and fees deduction covers the same expenses as the American Opportunity Credit and Lifetime Learning Credit. So, you can either claim the deduction or one of the education credits. However, you can't claim the deduction and a credit for the same student.  

You can usually claim the tuition and fees deduction if you meet all these requirements:

  • You pay qualified higher education expenses. Qualified expenses include:
    • Tuition and fees, like student-activity fees
    • Expenses for course-related books, supplies, and equipment. You must pay these expenses to the institution as a condition of enrollment or attendance.  Books, supplies, and equipment bought elsewhere don't qualify for this deduction.
  • You pay the education expenses for an eligible student. An eligible student is someone enrolled in one or more courses at an eligible educational institution. An eligible student can be:
    • Yourself
    • Your spouse
    • Someone you claim as a dependent on your return

Only the person who claims the dependency exemption and pays the expenses can claim the deduction. So, the deduction is available to:

  • Parents who pay for their child's education
  • Students who pay for their own education and can't be claimed as a dependent

The parent might pay the expenses but can't claim the student as a dependent. If so, the student can use the amount paid by the parent to claim the deduction on the student’s own return.

Your income must be within the limits set for this deduction. The deduction begins to phase out at:

  • $65,000 if filing single
  • $130,000 if married filing jointly

The deduction is completely phased out if your modified adjusted gross income (AGI) is:

  • $80,000 if filing single
  • $160,000 if married filing jointly

You can't claim this deduction if any of these apply:

  • You and your spouse file separate returns.
  • Another person can claim you as a dependent. You can't claim the deduction even if the other person doesn't actually claim you as a dependent.
  • Both of these are true:
    • You or your spouse is a nonresident alien for any part of the year.
    • The nonresident alien didn’t elect to be treated as a resident alien for tax purposes.
  • You claim one of these credits for the qualified education expenses of the student:
    • American Opportunity Credit
    • Lifetime Learning Credit

To learn more, see these at www.irs.gov:

  • Publication 970: Tax Benefits for Education, Chapter 6
  • Form 1040 instructions

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