Education expenses can be claimed as a tax credit on an itemized return, but under what circumstances? For instance, does a long-term course of study as an electrician count as a 4-year post-grad program?
According to income tax experts H&R Block, the American Opportunity Credit, or AOC, may be claimed by individuals who are working toward an educational credential such as a certificate or bachelor’s degree. That’s it.
H & R Block also advises its clients to look at the Lifetime Learning Credit as tuition and fees may be claimed under its rules as a deduction. One caveat is that the school must be eligible, and the courses must be helpful toward getting or improving career-related skills. A person does not have to be working toward a degree of any kind to claim this tax credit.
In fact, both the tuition and fees deduction and the Lifelong Learning Credit may be taken together, but the taxpayer must use different expenses to qualify. Go online to IRS.gov to consult Publication 970 about the Lifetime Learning Credit and the deduction for tuition and associated fees.
Another taxes and education question comes up regarding CLEP tests. Students wonder if the testing fees are deductible. Experts at H & R Block say no they are not for a couple of reasons.
CLEP tests garner an individual education credits for life experience or knowledge. However, as there is no real instruction or course being taken at an eligible educational institution, the CLEP test expenses are not legitimately deductible. This may be a source of frustration for some people who are enrolled in college or about to start and are trying to get ahead of the game as far as course credit goes. However, the IRS very narrowly defines what fees do and do not qualify as a deduction.
Go online to H & R Block at hrblock.com to get answers to more tax-related questions.