Education & Work-Related Expenses (2004 IRS FAQ)

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IRS FAQ 3.2 Itemized Deductions/Standard Deductions: Education & Work-Related Expenses



What types of educational expenses are deductible?

Deductible educational expenses include amounts spent for tuition, books, supplies, laboratory fees, and similar items. They also include the cost of correspondence courses, as well as formal training and research you do as part of an educational program. Transportation and travel expenses to attend qualified educational activities may also be deductible. For more information, refer to Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education; and Educational Expenses, Educational Expenses.

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Can I deduct the cost of classes I need for work?

In some cases, you may be able to deduct the cost of classes you need for work. This deduction, however, would be subject to the 2 percent of AGI limitation, along with most other miscellaneous itemized deductions you list on Form 1040, Schedule A (PDF), Itemized Deductions.

To be deductible, your expenses must be for education that:

(1) Maintains or improves skills required in your present job, or

(2) Serves a business purpose and is required by your employer, or by law, to keep your present salary, status, or job.

However, these same expenses are not deductible if:

(1) The education is required to meet the minimum educational requirements of your job, or

(2) The education is part of a program that will lead to qualifying you in a new trade or business.

Educational expenses, related to your present work, that are incurred during periods of temporary absence from your job may also be deductible provided you return to the same job or same type of work. Generally, absence from work for one year or less is considered temporary.

For more information, refer to Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education; and Educational Expenses, Educational Expenses

References:

Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education

Educational Expenses, Educational Expenses

Form 8863 (PDF), Education Credits (Hope and Lifetime Learning Credits)



Am I eligible to claim both my job education expenses (minus 2% of AGI) and the Lifetime Learning Credit on my taxes?

If you are eligible to deduct educational expenses and are also eligible for the lifetime learning credit, then it is possible to claim both, as long as you do NOT use the SAME educational expenses to claim both benefits. Your expenses must be divided between the two. This is sometimes desirable because a qualifying expense for one benefit may not be a qualifying expense for the other tax benefit. For more information, refer to Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education; Form 8863 (PDF), Education Credits (Hope and Lifetime Learning Credits); and Educational Expenses, Educational Expenses.

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My employer is including my graduate school tuition reimbursements on my W-2 as wages. Where do I claim these education expenses on my Form 1040?

If your graduate school tuition is deductible and the reimbursements are included in your income as wages, you may take the expense as a miscellaneous itemized deduction on Form 1040, Schedule A (PDF), Itemized Deductions, line 20. You may also need to attach Form 2106 (PDF), Employee Business Expenses. For more information, refer to Publication 970Tax Benefits for Education; Educational Expenses, Educational Expenses; and Form 2106 (PDF), Employee Business Expenses.

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How do I claim an educational expense on my return?

Employees, generally, must complete Form 2106 (PDF), Employee Business Expenses or Form 2106-EZ (PDF), Unreimbursed Employee Business Expenses, when job-related educational expenses are involved. Educational expenses are deducted as miscellaneous deductions, on line 20, Form 1040, Schedule A (PDF), Itemized Deductions. Alternatives to educational expense deductions should also be considered, such as the Lifetime Learning and Hope Credits, as discussed in Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education.

Self-employed individuals include educational expenses as deductions on Form 1040 Schedule C (PDF), Profit or Loss From Business; Form 1040, Schedule C-EZ (PDF) , Net Profit From Business; or Form 1040, Schedule F (PDF), Profit or Loss From Farming. For more information, refer to the forms, instructions, and publications listed above plus Educational Expenses, Educational Expenses, and Education Credits, Education Credits.

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What are the limits for deducting interest paid on a student loan?

The maximum deductible interest on a qualified student loan is $2,500 per return. If you are a taxpayer whose return status is married filing jointly, you are allowed to deduct the full $2,500 only when your Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) is $100,000 or less. If your MAGI is between $100,000 and $130,000, the amount of your student loan interest deduction is gradually reduced. The instructions for Form 1040 (PDF) show you how to compute the deduction. If your MAGI is $130,000 or more, you are not able to take any deduction.

For those whose filing status is single, head of household, or qualifying widow(er), the full $2,500 deduction is allowed for MAGI levels equal to or below $50,000. For MAGI between $50,000 and $65,000, the deduction amount is phased out, and computation instructions are provided in the Form 1040 Instructions. If your MAGI amount is $65,000 or more, there is no deduction.

There is no deduction if you file as married filing separately, if you are claimed as a dependent, or if the loan is from a related party or a qualified employer plan. For more information, refer to Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education ; Interest Expense, Interest Expense ; and Educational Expenses, Educational Expenses .

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Is the $2,500 maximum deduction for student loan interest per PERSON, or per RETURN? I am married filing jointly and have paid over $5,000 of qualified interest payments for my husband and me. Are we allowed to deduct up to $5,000 ($2,500/person) or only $2,500 total on our return?

The deduction is limited to $2,500 per return for tax year 2001 and beyond. If you file as "married filing separately," there is no deduction. For more information, refer to Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education; and Interest Expense, Interest Expense.

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Last year, my parents took out a student loan for me in their name and I also took out a student loan. My parents received Form 1098-E for their loan and I also received Form 1098-E for my loan. Can we both claim the interest from the loans on our tax returns? Last year, I was not their dependent.

In order for a taxpayer to claim a deduction for student loan interest, the loan must be incurred for the taxpayer, the taxpayer' spouse, or a person who was the taxpayer's dependent when the taxpayer took out the loan. Since you were not your parents' dependent when they took out the student loan, the interest they paid on the loan does not qualify for deduction. However, the student loan interest payments you made on the student loan you took out on your behalf are eligible for deduction, provided all the other requirements are met. For more information, refer to Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education; Interest Expense, Interest Expense; and Educational Expenses, Educational Expenses.

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Source: IRS.gov

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