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Education credits and deductions

You may qualify for an education credit if you, your spouse, or your dependent is the student, and the student is enrolled at an eligible educational institution.

Go to this section in Credit Karma Tax: Education Expenses

Two education credits are the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) and the Lifetime Learning Credit (LLC). You can only claim one of these credits per student or qualified expense. In general, you should claim whichever one will reduce your tax liability the most. We’ll ask you a series of questions while you’re doing your taxes to help determine which credit is greater.

At this time, the Tuition and Fees Deduction has not been renewed for tax year 2018. If congress renews this deduction after you file and you qualify to take it, you will need to file an amended tax return to claim this deduction.

If you need help deciding whether you can claim an education credit, check out this IRS Interactive Tax Assistant. It tells you which forms to have handy, then asks a series of questions to help you determine your eligibility. 
Source: irs.gov

Which expenses qualify?

Qualified expenses include tuition and fees required for the student to enroll and register for classes at a qualified educational institution.

For the American Opportunity Tax Credit you can also include books and other required course materials even if it’s not paid directly to the educational institution.

Refer to the IRS guide on Qualified Education Expenses for more details.

Restrictions on claiming the American Opportunity Credit or the Lifetime Learning Credit

You can only claim one of the education credits per student or qualifying expense and you should generally claim the largest credit you qualify for.

You can’t claim an education credit if:

  • Someone else claims you as a dependent on their tax return
  • You file as married filing separately
  • You already claimed another higher education benefit for the same student or expenses
  • You or your spouse were a non-resident alien for any part of the year and did not choose to
  • Be treated as a resident alien for tax purposes
  • You have a felony drug conviction by the end of the year (AOTC only)


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