Education Tax Credits
(Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997)
Information on Education Tax Credits
In an effort to make college more affordable, Congress passed the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 (TRA97) and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) establishing the Lifetime Learning Tax Credit and the American Opportunity Credit. Both of these credits are limited by taxpayer income. If students are eligible, they will need the information reported on Form 1098-T to help compute these credits. Southern Oregon University mails this form to all students by January 31 of the following calendar year. This information is also available on MySOU and SISWeb on January 1 after the end of the tax year.
American Opportunity Tax Credit
The American Opportunity Credit provides a tax credit to taxpayers who pay qualified tuition and related expenses (including books) for attending an eligible institution for at least one term on at least a half-time basis. This credit is designed to offset tuition costs incurred during the first four years of college. The individual tax filer can use it for only four years for each eligible student. This credit is computed on qualified tuition and related expenses (including books) paid during the calendar year minus certain grants, scholarships, and other tax-free educational assistance. The maximum tax credit is $2,500 per student and 40% of this credit is refundable for most taxpayers. This means you can get money back even if you owe no taxes. If you qualify, this credit can be claimed on your federal tax return. For more information about this tax credit, you can visit the ARRA information center at irs.gov or call 1-800-829-1040.
Lifetime Learning Tax Credit
Like the Hope Scholarship Credit, the Lifetime Learning Credit provides a tax credit to taxpayers who pay qualified tuition and related expenses to an eligible institution. It differs from the Hope Scholarship: the student is not required to attend at least half time. A family may claim a credit of up to $2,000 per tax year. The Lifetime Learning tax credit is available for tuition and related expenses paid during the calendar year minus certain grants, scholarships, and other tax-free educational assistance.
Are you eligible for a tax credit?
You may be eligible for a tax credit for tuition paid, minus certain financial aid received. IRS regulations limit eligibility based on hours completed, hours enrolled, and income of the taxpayer. Be sure to read "Instructions for Student" on your hard-copy Form 1098-T. Contact your tax preparer, call the IRS (800-829-1040), and/or consult IRS Publication 970, "Tax Benefits for Education."
If you decide to claim education tax credits, you will need to complete IRS Form 8863.
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