Question

I paid for my son to attend college and have a question about a tuition and fees deduction. This year, he graduated and filed his own return. Can I amend my return and claim an education credit and deduct tuition I paid on his behalf?

Answer

You can only claim applicable education credits or a tuition and fees deduction if you claim your son as a dependent. If your son wasn’t a dependent of you or anyone else, he should’ve claimed an exemption for himself on his own return. If he’s eligible, he can claim an education credit or deduct tuition for the expenses you paid on his return.

For you to claim the tuition you have to be eligible to claim your child as a dependent and have paid the expenses. If your child paid the expenses or you don’t claim him, you can’t take the tuition and fees deduction or another credit. The child can use all eligible expenses for the tuition and fees deduction or a credit if he’s not an eligible dependent. This is true regardless of whether the student, the parent, or someone else paid the fees.

If you can claim your son as a dependent and he already filed his return, he’ll need to file an amended return to remove his exemption. He’ll need to use Form 1040X — which he must mail to the IRS.

If you were entitled to claim your son as a dependent, but chose not to, he can claim the nonrefundable portion of the education credits. However, he can’t claim the tuition and fees deduction or his own exemption, since you were entitled to claim these.

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