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IRS.gov Website
Publication 970
taxmap/pubs/p970-024.htm#en_us_publink1000295066

Who Can Claim a
Dependent's Expenses(p39)

rule
Generally, in order to claim the tuition and fees deduction for qualified education expenses for a dependent, you must:
  1. Have paid the expenses, and
  2. Claim an exemption for the student as a dependent.
For you to be able to deduct qualified education expenses for your dependent, you must claim an exemption for that individual. You do this by listing your dependent's name and other required information on Form 1040 (or Form 1040A), line 6c.
IF your dependent is an eligible student and you...AND...THEN...
claim an exemption for your dependentyou paid all qualified education expenses for your dependentonly you can deduct the qualified education expenses that you paid. Your dependent cannot take a deduction.
claim an exemption for your dependentyour dependent paid all qualified education expensesno one is allowed to take a deduction.
do not claim an exemption for your dependentyou paid all qualified education expensesno one is allowed to take a deduction.
do not claim an exemption for your dependentyour dependent paid all qualified education expensesno one is allowed to take a deduction.
taxmap/pubs/p970-024.htm#en_us_publink1000295067

Expenses paid by dependent.(p39)

rule
If your dependent pays qualified education expenses, no one can take a tuition and fees deduction for those expenses. Neither you nor your dependent can deduct the expenses. For purposes of the tuition and fees deduction, you are not treated as paying any expenses actually paid by a dependent for whom you or anyone other than the dependent can claim an exemption. This rule applies even if you do not claim an exemption for your dependent on your tax return.
taxmap/pubs/p970-024.htm#en_us_publink1000295068

Expenses paid by you.(p39)

rule
If you claim an exemption for a dependent who is an eligible student, only you can include any expenses you paid when figuring your tuition and fees deduction.
taxmap/pubs/p970-024.htm#en_us_publink1000295069

Expenses paid under divorce decree.(p39)

rule
Qualified education expenses paid directly to an eligible educational institution for a student under a court-approved divorce decree are treated as paid by the student. Only the student would be eligible to take a tuition and fees deduction for that payment, and then only if no one else could claim an exemption for the student.
taxmap/pubs/p970-024.htm#en_us_publink1000295070

Expenses paid by others.(p40)

rule
Someone other than you, your spouse, or your dependent (such as a relative or former spouse) may make a payment directly to an eligible educational institution to pay for an eligible student's qualified education expenses. In this case, the student is treated as receiving the payment from the other person and, in turn, paying the institution. If you claim, or can claim, an exemption on your tax return for the student, you are not considered to have paid the expenses and you cannot deduct them. If the student is not a dependent, only the student can deduct payments made directly to the institution for his or her expenses. If the student is your dependent, no one can deduct the payments.
taxmap/pubs/p970-024.htm#en_us_publink1000295071

Example.(p40)

In 2013, Ms. Baker makes a payment directly to an eligible educational institution for her grandson Dan's qualified education expenses. For purposes of deducting tuition and fees, Dan is treated as receiving the money from his grandmother and, in turn, paying his own qualified education expenses.
If an exemption cannot be claimed for Dan on anyone else's tax return, only Dan can claim a tuition and fees deduction for his grandmother's payment. If someone else can claim an exemption for Dan, no one will be allowed a deduction for Ms. Baker's payment.
taxmap/pubs/p970-024.htm#en_us_publink1000295072

Tuition reduction.(p40)

rule
When an eligible educational institution provides a reduction in tuition to an employee of the institution (or spouse or dependent child of an employee), the amount of the reduction may or may not be taxable. If it is taxable, the employee is treated as receiving a payment of that amount and, in turn, paying it to the educational institution on behalf of the student. For more information on tuition reductions, see Qualified Tuition Reduction, in chapter 1, Scholarships, Fellowships, Grants, and Tuition Reductions.