Tax credits can be especially valuable because they reduce taxes dollar-for-dollar; deductions reduce only the amount of income that’s taxed. A couple of credits are available for higher education expenses:
1. The American Opportunity credit — up to $2,500 per year per student for qualifying expenses for the first four years of postsecondary education.
2. The Lifetime Learning credit — up to $2,000 per tax return for postsecondary education expenses, even beyond the first four years.
But income-based phase outs apply to these credits. If your income is too high to qualify, you might be eligible to deduct up to $4,000 of qualified higher education tuition and fees. The deduction is limited to $2,000 for taxpayers with incomes exceeding certain limits and is unavailable to taxpayers with higher incomes.
If you don’t qualify for breaks for your child’s higher education expenses because your income is too high, your child might. Many additional rules and limits apply to the credits and deduction, however. To learn which breaks your family might be eligible for on your 2013 tax returns — and which will provide the greatest tax savings — please contact us.