College costs getting you down?

College costs getting you down?

campusWell perk up!!!! Your kids will be smart and more well-rounded AND the IRS is giving you the added bonus of many possible tax incentives.  Woohoo!!! Fantastic!

What are these special incentives…well, here’s a few to wrap your mind around….

The American Opportunity Credit….an education credit of up to $2,500 for qualified higher education costs.  You get 100% of the first $2,000 spent and 25% of the next $2,000 spent.  AND, get this…….40% of that is a REFUNDABLE credit!!!!!  What does that mean?  Well, it means that even if you have managed to have $0 in tax paid using all those other tax breaks, credits, adjustments, and deductions….you may still get up to $1,000 of this credit in your pocket.  Nice, huh?  FYI—the recently passed PATH Act made this Credit permanent…no more waiting until the end of December every year to see if it’s offered.

The Tuition and Fees Deduction, above-the-line deduction for qualified educational costs……This one actually LOWERS adjusted gross income, which works into how much you can take for other deductions.   It phases out at higher income levels.  That means you can make more money and still take this adjustment than what’s allowed to get that American Opportunity Credit.  It’s capped at either a $2,000 or $4,000 deduction depending on your income level.  This adjustment was extended through 2016 by the PATH Act.

College costs actually PAID-Schools have been sending out forms to students and their families for years filling in only the box that shows the amount of educational costs BILLED and leaving blank the box you actually need when filing your taxes, the amount actually PAID.   This is shown on what is called a 1098-T form that the school mails or that you have to get online.  Well…..the PATH Act, passed in December 2015, now says that beginning with amounts billed and paid after Dec. 31, 2015, for academic periods starting after that date, schools have to show the amount you actually need to know….the amount PAID.  Prior to this the schools had a choice on which one to report and for some reason they chose to give people the info that wasn’t really helpful.  So new reule…..Hmmmm…something that makes sense.  Nice!

529 Plans-Qualified Tuition Programs–  now you can take distributions for computer equipment, related supplies, and software even if the college/university doesn’t specifically make the purchase of these items a mandatory condition of enrollment.

Lifetime Learning Credit-Still available and not much talked about……a more lenient credit, for less money.  Good for a nonrefundable credit of 20% of up to $10,000 per student each year.

All these items include various rules, exclusions, income phase-outs, etc so please give us a call to help you.

ALSO….NO DOUBLE DIPPING!

Wanna read more on education stuff?

Linda Reinhardt

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