Being a Parent is Hard. Form 8917 Can Make It a Little Easier

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A step-by-step guide on filing Form 8917 Tuition and Fees Deduction.

More than 70% of the youngsters who graduated high school last year are now attending college. Unemployment has been a problem lately, so many people are returning to school to increase their knowledge and train for new skills. All of this makes for a massive number of students that can easily qualify for a $4,000 deduction. Can you grab it too? If you read our guide below, it will only take 3 minutes of your time to file Form 8917.

What Do I Get to Deduct?

The Tuition and Fees Deduction Form (Form 8917) refers to education expenses. Who can claim the deduction? It depends on who the student is. It can be you, your spouse, or your dependent child. What exactly can be deducted? Well, as the name of the form quite clearly says, enrollment and tuition fees only. So any related expenses, like books, accommodation, food, transportation, insurance or medical expenses, as well as non-credited courses (such as a hobby-related course) are not covered by this deduction.

A pre-condition to qualify for a Form 8917 deduction is that your MAGI (modified adjusted gross income) is less than $80,000 (or, if married filing jointly, $160,000). In order to claim this deduction you cannot be a dependent of another person, be married and file separately, or be a nonresident alien. Also, if you already applied for another learning credit (hope credit), you cannot apply for a Form 8917 deduction.

Before you start filling in the form, take your time to read the instructions on what exactly is considered a qualified education expense (on page two of Form 8917).

On Line 1, you have to write all your qualified education expenses, add them up and put the result on Line 2.

Line 3 is for your total income, so just take it from your Form 1040, on Line 22 (or Form 1040A, Line 15).

On Line 4, you add up any expenses that are not related to tuition or student loan interest. Add up the amounts on Line 23 through 33 on your Form 1040 (or Line 16 to 18 on your Form 1040A). Subtract the total amount of these expenses from your total income (the amount on Line 3) and write the result on Line 5. Pay attention now. If the result is more than $80,000 (or $160,000 if married filing jointly), you can kiss your deduction good-bye.

The total amount of your tuition and fees deduction goes on Line 6. How do you determine it? If the amount on Line 5 is above $65,000 ($130,000 if married filing jointly), you get $2,000 or the amount on Line 2 (whichever is less). If, however, the amount on Line 5 is under $80,000 (or $160,000 if married filing jointly), you get the full $4,000 deduction or the amount on Line 2 (whichever is less). Enter the amount of your deduction on Line 6 and you’re done. Uncle Sam wants to remind you that you have to enter the same amount on Form 1040, Line 34, or Form 1040A, Line 19.

To Sum Up

The deduction provided by Form 8917 is one of the easiest to take in the whole IRS portfolio. Filing this form is as fast as reading a page of your easiest text book. Just take your time to check the requirements, because if you qualify, your taxable income could be lowered by up to $4,000.