Tax Prep For Your 2017 Return: Education Credits & Deductions

BOSTON (WBZ-AM) -- College is a very expensive experience. Congress and the IRS have given us a few ways to offset education costs with some credits and a deduction. The deduction for tuition and fees expired with the 2016 tax return. This is all there is:

1. The American Opportunity Credit: This credit can help parents and students pay part of the cost of the first four years of college. Congress modified the Hope Credit, making it available to a broader range of taxpayers. Eligible taxpayers may qualify for the maximum annual credit of $2,500 per student.

The credit amount is equal to 100% of the first $2,000 of qualified expenses plus 25% of the expenses in excess of $2,000. The maximum annual credit per student is $2,500.

There are income limits: For singles, it phases out between $80,000 and $90,000 and those filing jointly its $160,000 to $180,000.

2. The Lifetime Learning Credit: This credit can help pay for undergraduate, graduate and professional degree courses – including courses to improve job skills – regardless of the number of years it takes you to get a degree. Eligible taxpayers may qualify for up to $2,000. You cannot use both education credits in the same year.

There is an income limit; if you are single to be eligible for the credit you cannot earn more than $65,000. Married filing jointly its $130,000. 

3. Student Loan Interest Deduction: Limit is $2,500 for the year. As usual, there are income limits as well, if you are single and earn more than $80,000 there is no deduction. If you are married filing jointly limit is $160,000. This deduction can also be used whether you itemize or file the short 1040.

If your parents paid off your loans you may still be able to use the deduction. The IRS treats it as if they gifted you the money and you paid it off. They cannot take the deduction because they are not liable for the debt.

You can hear Dee Lee’s expert financial advice on WBZ NewsRadio 1030 each weekday at 1:55 p.m. and 3:55 p.m.

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