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Publication 970

Chapter 6
Tuition and Fees Deduction(p38)


You may be able to deduct qualified education expenses paid during the year for yourself, your spouse, or your dependent(s). You can't claim this deduction if your filing status is married filing separately or if another person can claim an exemption for you as a dependent on his or her tax return. The qualified expenses must be for higher education, as explained later under Qualified Education Expenses.
What is the tax benefit of the tuition and fees deduction?(p38)
The tuition and fees deduction can reduce the amount of your income subject to tax by up to $4,000.
This deduction is claimed as an adjustment to income. This means you can claim this deduction even if you don't itemize deductions on Schedule A (Form 1040). This deduction may be beneficial to you if you don't qualify for the American opportunity or lifetime learning credits.
You can choose the education benefit that will give you the lowest tax. You may want to compare the tuition and fees deduction to the education credits. See chapter 2 (American opportunity credit) and chapter 3 (lifetime learning credit) for more information on the education credits.
Table 6-1 summarizes the features of the tuition and fees deduction.

Can You Claim the Deduction?(p38)

The following rules will help you determine if you can claim the tuition and fees deduction.

Who Can Claim the Deduction?(p38)

Generally, you can claim the tuition and fees deduction if all three of the following requirements are met.
  1. You pay qualified education expenses of higher education.
  2. You pay the education expenses for an eligible student.
  3. The eligible student is yourself, your spouse, or your dependent for whom you claim an exemption on your tax return.
The term "qualified education expenses" is defined later under Qualified Education Expenses. "Eligible student" is defined later under Who Is an Eligible Student. For more information on claiming the deduction for a dependent, see Who Can Claim a Dependent's Expenses, later.

Table 6-1. Tuition and Fees Deduction at a Glance

Don't rely on this table alone. Refer to the text for complete details.

What is the maximum benefit?You can reduce your income subject to tax by up to $4,000.
What is the limit on modified adjusted gross income (MAGI)?$160,000 if married filing a joint return;
$80,000 if single, head of household, or qualifying widow(er).
Where is the deduction taken?As an adjustment to income on
Form 1040 or Form 1040A.
For whom must the expenses be paid?A student enrolled in an eligible educational institution who is either:
• you,
• your spouse, or
• your dependent for whom you claim an exemption.
What tuition and fees are deductible?Tuition and fees required for enrollment or attendance at an eligible postsecondary educational institution, but not including personal, living, or family expenses, such as room and board.

Who Can't Claim the Deduction?(p39)

You can't claim the tuition and fees deduction if any of the following apply.