What is the Lifetime Learning Credit?
The Lifetime Learning Credit (not to be confused with the American Opportunity Tax Credit) is a credit that qualified students (or parents of students if they claim the student as a dependent) can take while the student is enrolled in classes for an undergraduate, graduate, professional degree courses, and courses taken to gain or improve job skills. You can claim up to $2,000 in credits per student (20% of the first $10,000 of education expenses). Just like the American Opportunity Tax Credit, qualified education expenses include tuition, course fees, books, and course materials.
How do I qualify?
The LLC is relatively easy to qualify for. In order to be eligible to claim the tax credit, the student must meet the following three requirements:
1.) You must be enrolled or taking courses at an eligible educational institution for at least one academic period (such as a semester, trimester, or quarter) during the tax year.
2.) The courses must be geared towards a degree, certificate or other credential, or to gain or improve job skills.
3.) The student must also have received a 1098-T from the educational institution. This form shows the institution attended, amount of tuition paid, grants/scholarships received and other miscellaneous information.
4.) Finally, the student or whoever is claiming the student as a dependent can’t have a modified adjusted gross income of $67,000 or more ($134,000 or more if married filing jointly).
How many times can I claim the LLC?
Unlike the American Opportunity Tax Credit which can only be claimed four years, there is no limit to how many times the LLC can be claimed. So for students who’ve already claimed four years of the AOTC and are still enrolled in school, the Lifetime Learning Credit provides a great option.
Claiming the Credit
After determining whether or not the taxpayer is eligible, the IRS Form 8863 must be filled out. Similar to the American Opportunity Tax Credit, this form will aid in determining the amount of eligible credits. To complete the form, the taxpayer will need to have the student’s 1098-T and copies of receipts for deductible books, supplies, and fees. Similar to the American Opportunity Tax Credit, the student will also need to have a valid ITIN. For tax purposes, a TIN is a Social Security number, an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) or an adoption taxpayer identification number (ATIN).
If you or someone you know needs help determining eligibility and claiming credits, talk to one of our tax professionals today. We know the questions to ask and can get get you started on the right path.