Effective: February 7, 2022
Your Stuff & Your Permissions
When you use our Services, you provide us with things like your files, content, messages, contacts, and so on ("Your Stuff"). Your Stuff is yours. These Terms don’t give us any rights to Your Stuff except for the limited rights that enable us to offer the Services.
We need your permission to do things like hosting Your Stuff, backing it up, and sharing it when you ask us to. Our Services also provide you with features like eSign, file sharing, email newsletters, appointment setting and more. These and other features may require our systems to access, store, and scan Your Stuff. You give us permission to do those things, and this permission extends to our affiliates and trusted third parties we work with.
Sharing Your Stuff
Our Services let you share Your Stuff with others, so please think carefully about what you share.
You’re responsible for your conduct. Your Stuff and you must comply with applicable laws. Content in the Services may be protected by others’ intellectual property rights. Please don’t copy, upload, download, or share content unless you have the right to do so. We may review your conduct and content for compliance with these Terms. With that said, we have no obligation to do so. We aren’t responsible for the content people post and share via the Services.
Help us keep you informed and Your Stuff protected. Safeguard your password to the Services, and keep your account information current. Don’t share your account credentials or give others access to your account.
You may use our Services only as permitted by applicable law, including export control laws and regulations. Finally, to use our Services, you must be at least 13, or in some cases, even older. If you live in France, Germany, or the Netherlands, you must be at least 16. Please check your local law for the age of digital consent. If you don’t meet these age requirements, you may not use the Services.
Some of our Services allow you to download client software (“Software”) which may update automatically. So long as you comply with these Terms, we give you a limited, nonexclusive, nontransferable, revocable license to use the Software, solely to access the Services. To the extent any component of the Software may be offered under an open source license, we’ll make that license available to you and the provisions of that license may expressly override some of these Terms. Unless the following restrictions are prohibited by law, you agree not to reverse engineer or decompile the Services, attempt to do so, or assist anyone in doing so.
We sometimes release products and features that we are still testing and evaluating. Those Services have been marked beta, preview, early access, or evaluation (or with words or phrases with similar meanings) and may not be as reliable as other non-beta services, so please keep that in mind.
The Services are protected by copyright, trademark, and other US and foreign laws. These Terms don’t grant you any right, title, or interest in the Services, others’ content in the Services, CountingWorks and our trademarks, logos and other brand features. We welcome feedback, but note that we may use comments or suggestions without any obligation to you.
We respect the intellectual property of others and ask that you do too. We respond to notices of alleged copyright infringement if they comply with the law, and such notices should be reported to legal@CountingWorks.com. We reserve the right to delete or disable content alleged to be infringing and terminate accounts of repeat infringers. Our designated agent for notice of alleged copyright infringement on the Services is:
You’re free to stop using our Services at any time. We reserve the right to suspend or terminate your access to the Services with notice to you if:
We won’t provide notice before termination where:
Discontinuation of Services
We may decide to discontinue the Services in response to unforeseen circumstances beyond CountingWorks control or to comply with a legal requirement. If we do so, we’ll give you reasonable prior notice so that you can export Your Stuff from our systems.
Services “AS IS”
We strive to provide great Services, but there are certain things that we can't guarantee. TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW, CountingWorks AND ITS AFFILIATES, SUPPLIERS AND DISTRIBUTORS MAKE NO WARRANTIES, EITHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, ABOUT THE SERVICES. THE SERVICES ARE PROVIDED "AS IS." WE ALSO DISCLAIM ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, AND NON-INFRINGEMENT. Some places don’t allow the disclaimers in this paragraph, so they may not apply to you.
Limitation of Liability
WE DON’T EXCLUDE OR LIMIT OUR LIABILITY TO YOU WHERE IT WOULD BE ILLEGAL TO DO SO—THIS INCLUDES ANY LIABILITY FOR CountingWorks OR ITS AFFILIATES’ FRAUD OR FRAUDULENT MISREPRESENTATION IN PROVIDING THE SERVICES. IN COUNTRIES WHERE THE FOLLOWING TYPES OF EXCLUSIONS AREN’T ALLOWED, WE'RE RESPONSIBLE TO YOU ONLY FOR LOSSES AND DAMAGES THAT ARE A REASONABLY FORESEEABLE RESULT OF OUR FAILURE TO USE REASONABLE CARE AND SKILL OR OUR BREACH OF OUR CONTRACT WITH YOU. THIS PARAGRAPH DOESN’T AFFECT CONSUMER RIGHTS THAT CAN'T BE WAIVED OR LIMITED BY ANY CONTRACT OR AGREEMENT.
IN COUNTRIES WHERE EXCLUSIONS OR LIMITATIONS OF LIABILITY ARE ALLOWED, CountingWorks, ITS AFFILIATES, SUPPLIERS OR DISTRIBUTORS WON’T BE LIABLE FOR:
THESE EXCLUSIONS OR LIMITATIONS WILL APPLY REGARDLESS OF WHETHER OR NOT CountingWorks OR ANY OF ITS AFFILIATES HAS BEEN WARNED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES.
IF YOU USE THE SERVICES FOR ANY COMMERCIAL, BUSINESS, OR RE-SALE PURPOSE, CountingWorks, ITS AFFILIATES, SUPPLIERS OR DISTRIBUTORS WILL HAVE NO LIABILITY TO YOU FOR ANY LOSS OF PROFIT, LOSS OF BUSINESS, BUSINESS INTERRUPTION, OR LOSS OF BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY. CountingWorks AND ITS AFFILIATES AREN’T RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CONDUCT, WHETHER ONLINE OR OFFLINE, OF ANY USER OF THE SERVICES.
Let’s Try To Sort Things Out First. We want to address your concerns without needing a formal legal case. Before filing a claim against CountingWorks or our affiliates, you agree to try to resolve the dispute informally by contacting legal@CountingWorks.com. We’ll try to resolve the dispute informally by contacting you via email.
Judicial forum for disputes. You and CountingWorks agree that any judicial proceeding to resolve claims relating to these Terms or the Services will be brought in the federal or state courts of Orange County, California, subject to the mandatory arbitration provisions below. Both you and CountingWorks consent to venue and personal jurisdiction in such courts. If you reside in a country (for example, European Union member states) with laws that give consumers the right to bring disputes in their local courts, this paragraph doesn’t affect those requirements.
IF YOU’RE A U.S. RESIDENT, YOU ALSO AGREE TO THE FOLLOWING MANDATORY ARBITRATION PROVISIONS:
These Terms will be governed by California law except for its conflicts of laws principles. However, some countries (including those in the European Union) have laws that require agreements to be governed by the local laws of the consumer's country. This paragraph doesn’t override those laws.
These Terms constitute the entire agreement between you and CountingWorks with respect to the subject matter of these Terms, and supersede and replace any other prior or contemporaneous agreements, or terms and conditions applicable to the subject matter of these Terms. These Terms create no third party beneficiary rights.
Waiver, Severability & Assignment
CountingWorks failure to enforce a provision is not a waiver of its right to do so later. If a provision is found unenforceable, the remaining provisions of the Terms will remain in full effect and an enforceable term will be substituted reflecting our intent as closely as possible. You may not assign any of your rights under these Terms, and any such attempt will be void. CountingWorks may assign its rights to any of its affiliates or subsidiaries, or to any successor in interest of any business associated with the Services.
We may revise these Terms from time to time to better reflect:
If an update affects your use of the Services or your legal rights as a user of our Services, we’ll notify you prior to the update's effective date by sending an email to the email address associated with your account or via an in-product notification. These updated terms will be effective no less than 30 days from when we notify you.
If you don’t agree to the updates we make, please cancel your account before they become effective. By continuing to use or access the Services after the updates come into effect, you agree to be bound by the revised Terms.
Effective: February 7, 2022
Thanks for visiting our website. Our mission is to create a web based experience that makes it easier for us to work together. Here we describe how we collect, use, and handle your personal information when you use our websites, software, and services (“Services”).
What & Why
We collect and use the following information to provide, improve, and protect our Services:
Account information. We collect, and associate with your account, the information you provide to us when you do things such as sign up for your account, opt-in to our client newsletter or request an appointment (like your name, email address, phone number, and physical address). Some of our Services let you access your accounts and your information via other service providers.
Your Stuff. Our Services are designed to make it simple for you to store your files, documents, comments, messages, and so on (“Your Stuff”), collaborate with others, and work across multiple devices. To make that possible, we store, process, and transmit Your Stuff as well as information related to it. This related information includes your profile information that makes it easier to collaborate and share Your Stuff with others, as well as things like the size of the file, the time it was uploaded, collaborators, and usage activity. Our Services provide you with different options for sharing Your Stuff.
Contacts. You may choose to give us access to your contacts (spouse or other company staff) to make it easy for you to do things like share and collaborate on Your Stuff, send messages, and invite others to use the Services. If you do, we’ll store those contacts on our servers for you to use.
Usage information. We collect information related to how you use the Services, including actions you take in your account (like sharing, viewing, and moving files or folders). We use this information to improve our Services, develop new services and features, and protect our users.
Cookies and other technologies. We use technologies like cookies to provide, improve, protect, and promote our Services. For example, cookies help us with things like remembering your username for your next visit, understanding how you are interacting with our Services, and improving them based on that information. You can set your browser to not accept cookies, but this may limit your ability to use the Services.
Marketing. We give users the option to use some of our Services free of charge. These free Services are made possible by the fact that some users upgrade to one of our paid Services. If you register for our free Services, we will, from time to time, send you information about the firm or tax and accounting tips when permissible. Users who receive these marketing materials can opt out at any time. If you do not want to receive marketing materials from us, simply click the ‘unsubscribe’ link in any email.
We sometimes contact people who do not have an account. For recipients in the EU, we or a third party will obtain consent before contacting you. If you receive an email and no longer wish to be contacted by us, you can unsubscribe and remove yourself from our contact list via the message itself.
Bases for processing your data. We collect and use the personal data described above in order to provide you with the Services in a reliable and secure manner. We also collect and use personal data for our legitimate business needs. To the extent we process your personal data for other purposes, we ask for your consent in advance or require that our partners obtain such consent.
We may share information as discussed below, but we won’t sell it to advertisers or other third parties.
Other users. Our Services display information like your name, profile picture, device, and email address to other users in places like your user profile and sharing notifications. You can also share Your Stuff with other users if you choose. When you register your account with an email address on a domain owned by your employer or organization, we may help collaborators and administrators find you and your workspace by making some of your basic information—like your name, workspace name, profile picture, and email address—visible to other users on the same domain. This helps you sync up with workspaces you can join and helps other users share files and folders with you. Certain features let you make additional information available to others.
Workspace Admins. If you are a user of a workspace, your administrator may have the ability to access and control your workspace account. Please refer to your organization’s internal policies if you have questions about this. If you are not a workspace user but interact with a workspace user (by, for example, joining a shared folder or accessing stuff shared by that user), members of that organization may be able to view the name, email address, profile picture, and IP address that was associated with your account at the time of that interaction.
Law & Order and the Public Interest. We may disclose your information to third parties if we determine that such disclosure is reasonably necessary to: (a) comply with any applicable law, regulation, legal process, or appropriate government request; (b) protect any person from death or serious bodily injury; (c) prevent fraud or abuse of our platform or our users; (d) protect our rights, property, safety, or interest; or (e) perform a task carried out in the public interest.
Stewardship of your data is critical to us and a responsibility that we embrace. We believe that your data should receive the same legal protections regardless of whether it’s stored on our Services or on your home computer’s hard drive. We’ll abide by Government Request Policies when receiving, scrutinizing, and responding to government requests (including national security requests) for your data:
Security. We have a team dedicated to keeping your information secure and testing for vulnerabilities. We also continue to work on features to keep your information safe in addition to things like blocking repeated login attempts, encryption of files at rest, and alerts when new devices and apps are linked to your account. We deploy automated technologies to detect abusive behavior and content that may harm our Services, you, or other users.
User Controls. You can access, amend, download, and delete your personal information by logging into your account.
Retention. When you sign up for an account with us, we’ll retain information you store on our Services for as long as your account is in existence or as long as we need it to provide you the Services. If you delete your account, we will initiate deletion of this information after 30 days. But please note: (1) there might be some latency in deleting this information from our servers and back-up storage; and (2) we may retain this information if necessary to comply with our legal obligations, resolve disputes, or enforce our agreements.
Around the world. To provide you with the Services, we may store, process, and transmit information in the United States and locations around the world—including those outside your country. Information may also be stored locally on the devices you use to access the Services.
EU-U.S. Privacy Shield and Swiss-U.S. Privacy Shield. When transferring data from the European Union, the European Economic Area, and Switzerland, We rely upon a variety of legal mechanisms, including contracts with our customers and affiliates. We comply with the EU-U.S. and Swiss–U.S. Privacy Shield Frameworks as set forth by the U.S. Department of Commerce regarding the collection, use, and retention of personal information transferred from the European Union, the European Economic Area, and Switzerland to the United States.
We are subject to oversight by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. JAMS is the US-based independent organization responsible for reviewing and resolving complaints about our Privacy Shield compliance—free of charge to you. We ask that you first submit any such complaints directly to us via privacy@CountingWorks.com. If you aren’t satisfied with our response, please contact JAMS at https://www.jamsadr.com/eu-us-privacy-shield. In the event your concern still isn’t addressed by JAMS, you may be entitled to a binding arbitration under Privacy Shield and its principles.
If we are involved in a reorganization, merger, acquisition, or sale of our assets, your information may be transferred as part of that deal.
Your Right to Control and Access Your Information
You have control over your personal information and how it is collected, used, and shared. For example, you have a right to:
Your personal information is controlled by CountingWorks, Inc. Have questions or concerns about CountingWorks, our Services, and privacy? Contact our Data Protection Officer at privacy@CountingWorks.com. If they can’t answer your question, you have the right to contact your local data protection supervisory authority.
Third Party Vendors
Amazon Web Services
Updated: June 2020.
strives to ensure that its services are accessible to people with disabilities. has invested a significant amount of resources to help ensure that its website is made easier to use and more accessible for people with disabilities, with the strong belief that every person has the right to live with dignity, equality, comfort and independence.
makes available the UserWay Website Accessibility Widget that is powered by a dedicated accessibility server. The software allows us to improve its compliance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1).
Enabling the Accessibility Menu
The accessibility menu can be enabled either by hitting the tab key when the page first loads or by clicking the accessibility menu icon that appears on the corner of the page. After triggering the accessibility menu, please wait a moment for the accessibility menu to load in its entirety.
continues its efforts to constantly improve the accessibility of its site and services in the belief that it is our collective moral obligation to allow seamless, accessible and unhindered use also for those of us with disabilities.
In an ongoing effort to continually improve and remediate accessibility issues, we also regularly scan with UserWay's Accessibility Scanner to identify and fix every possible accessibility barrier on our site. Despite our efforts to make all pages and content on fully accessible, some content may not have yet been fully adapted to the strictest accessibility standards. This may be a result of not having found or identified the most appropriate technological solution.
Here For You
If you are experiencing difficulty with any content on or require assistance with any part of our site, please contact us during normal business hours as detailed below and we will be happy to assist.
If you wish to report an accessibility issue, have any questions or need assistance, please contact customer support.
We keep you up-to-date with all the latest tax news and changes in the industry.
Tax Advantaged Repayment of Student Loans
Employer Provided Educational Assistance
Qualified Tuition Programs
The Deductibility of Student Loan Interest
Student Loans Forgiven in 2021 through 2025
Avoiding Student Loan Debt
Section 529 Plans
Coverdell Education Savings Account
Education Tax Credits
The American Opportunity Credit
The Lifetime Learning Credit
Despite recent rounds of forgiveness for thousands of borrowers, nearly 43 million Americans are responsible for roughly $1.6 trillion in federal student loans which results in a significant long-term burden for students after graduation. The average debt varies by state from $28,600 in North Dakota to $54,900 in the District of Columbia.
Although the U.S. Department of Education has, as a COVID-19 pandemic relief measure, currently suspended loan payments, reduced the interest rate to zero and stopped collections on defaulted loans, all that is scheduled to end after Aug. 31, 2022. Unfortunately, it is time start thinking about how to deal with the resumption of payments and interest charges
This article looks at the issue of student loan debt from an income tax perspective including:
Tax Advantaged Repayment of Student Loans
The Deductibility of Student Loan Interest
Treatment of Forgiven Student Loans
Avoiding Student Loan Debt
Tax Advantaged Repayment of Student Loans
The tax code provides two tax advantaged ways of repaying student loan debt that may apply to individuals under certain circumstances that should be employed to reduce the debt when available:
Employer Provided Educational Assistance – The tax code (Sec 127) includes a provision that allows employers to pay for employees’ education as a working condition fringe under an educational assistance program of the employer. It is limited to $5,250 per year and is not taxable income to the employee.
The CARES Act of 2020 expanded the definition of expenses available to qualify for the $5,250 employer-provided educational assistance exclusion to include employer payments of the employee’s student loan debt. This special allowance is available for payments made through December 31, 2025
Thus, where the individual works for an employer that has an educational assistance program, they should take advantage of the plan to pay down their debt.
Tax Tip - The employee isn’t allowed to claim the above-the-line student loan interest deduction for interest that the employer paid. So, in some cases it may be advantageous for the employer to designate their payment as going to principal only so the employee can claim a deduction for the interest that they paid.
Qualified Tuition Programs – Qualified Tuition Plans (sometimes referred to as Section 529 plans) are plans established to help families save and pay for education expenses in a tax-advantaged way that allow taxpayers to gift large sums of money for a family member’s education expenses, while continuing to maintain control of the funds. The earnings from these accounts grow tax-deferred and are tax-free, if used to pay for qualified education expenses.
Normally, funds from these accounts are only allowed to pay for education expenses. Distributions from a 529 plan of up to $10,000 can be used to pay the principal and interest on qualified higher education loans of the account’s designated beneficiary or a sibling of the designated beneficiary. However, the $10,000 limit is a lifetime limit.
To prevent double-dipping, Sec 529 plan distributions used to pay interest on the education loan cannot also be used for the above-the-line deduction for student loan interest.
The Deductibility of Student Loan Interest
The student loan interest deduction is not limited to the interest paid on government student loans. In fact, virtually any loan interest will qualify as long as the loan proceeds are used solely for qualified higher-education expenses (that is, it is a sole-purpose loan). However, the maximum interest that is deductible each year is $2,500. Thus, in addition to government student loans, home equity lines of credit, personal loans from unrelated parties, and even credit cards can be used if they otherwise qualify. Pension plan loans and loans from related parties do not qualify.
Example #1 – Jack takes out an equity line of credit on his home and borrows $30,000 to finance a solar electric installation on his home and $10,000 to pay his daughter’s qualified education expenses. Because this loan is not used for a single purpose (he used it to borrow funds for more than education), he cannot deduct a portion of the interest as above-the-line education loan interest. However, if Jack had only used the loan to pay for qualified education expenses, then up to $2,500 of the loan interest could have been deducted as above-the-line student loan interest.
Example #2 – Mark has a Visa card that he uses for a variety of purposes, and he also uses it to pay his daughter’s qualified education expenses. Because the credit card is not used exclusively to pay for qualified education expenses, none of the interest will qualify as student loan interest. However, if Mark had only used the credit card to pay for qualified education expenses, then up to $2,500 of the credit card interest could have been deducted as above-the-line student loan interest. Caution: Although we use a credit card as an example of an alternate student loan, it is not practical because of the high interest rates.
The deduction is ratably phased-out in 2022 for taxpayers with an AGI (income) of $70,000 to $85,000 ($145,000 to $175,000 for joint returns) and not allowed at all for taxpayers filing as married separate or an individual who is a dependent of another. These phaseout levels are periodically adjusted for inflation.
If a loan is not subsidized, guaranteed, financed, or otherwise treated as a student loan under a program of the federal, state, or local government or an eligible educational institution, a payee (the lender) must request a certification from the payer (the borrower) that the loan will be used solely to pay for qualified higher-education expenses. Form W-9S, Request for Student’s or Borrower’s Social Security Number and Certification, is provided by the IRS for this purpose.
The deduction for student loan interest can be deducted whether the standard deduction or itemized deductions are claimed since it is an adjustment to income, often referred to as an above-the-line deduction.
To qualify as an eligible loan, the loan must have been taken out solely to pay the costs of attending an eligible educational institution for an individual during a period when the individual is a qualified student. Eligible costs include:
Room and board
Books and equipment
Other necessary expenses (including transportation)
The expense must be incurred within a reasonable time before or after the debt is incurred. The regulations provide that a loan is incurred within a reasonable period if:
The expenses are paid with the proceeds of a loan from a federal post-secondary education loan program; or
The expenses are related to a particular academic period and the loan proceeds used to pay the expenses are disbursed within a period that begins 90 days prior to the start of, and ends 90 days after the end of, that academic period. A home equity line of credit can be used to meet these requirements by paying education expenses as they become due, provided that the loan is not used for any other purpose.
Such expenses must be reduced by any:
Income excluded from employer-provided educational assistance;
Income excluded from U.S. savings bonds used to pay higher-education expenses;
Nontaxable distributions from Coverdell ESAs; and
Scholarships, allowances, or other payments (such as distributions from Sec. 529 plans) that are excludable from gross income.
An eligible student is one enrolled in a degree or certificate program who is at least a half-time student. What constitutes half the normal course load will be determined by the definition of the school being attended. Generally, a full-time student is one carrying at least 12 units.
The above-the-line interest deduction may only be claimed by a person who is legally obligated to make the payments on the qualified educational loan. However, tax regulations allow payments on above-the-line education interest made by someone other than the taxpayer/borrower to be treated as a gift, allowing the interest to be deductible by the taxpayer.
Student Loans Forgiven in 2021 through 2025
Normally, when a debt is cancelled, and unless a specific exception applies, the borrower is required to include the forgiven amount as taxable income. A provision was included in the American Rescue Plan Act, signed into law March 11, 2021, that student loans forgiven in 2021 through 2025 will be free from income tax if the loan was provided expressly for post-secondary educational expenses, regardless of whether provided through the educational institution or directly to the borrower, if such loan was made, insured, or guaranteed by:
(A) The United States, or an instrumentality or agency thereof; a State, territory, or possession of the United States, or the District of Co1umbia, or any political subdivision thereof; or an eligible educational institution.
(B) Generally, any private education loan.
(C) Generally, most loans made by educational organizations.
Avoiding Student Loan Debt
Although not everyone has the resources, if you have children below college age, there are tax-advantaged plans that allow you to save for the costs of their higher education and possibly avoid or minimize student debt. There are also tax credits that will help pay for tuition and expenses while the student is in school.
Section 529 Plans - Section 529 Plans (named after the section of the IRS Code that created them) are plans established to help families save and pay for education expenses in a tax-advantaged way and are available to everyone, regardless of income. These state-sponsored plans allow you to gift large sums of money for a family member’s college education while maintaining control of the funds. The earnings from these accounts grow tax-deferred and are tax-free, if used to pay for qualified higher education expenses. They can be used as an estate-planning tool as well, providing a means to transfer large amounts of money without gift tax. With all these tax benefits, 529 Plans are an excellent vehicle for college funding. Section 529 Plans come in two types, allowing you to either save funds in a tax-free account to be used later for higher education costs, or to prepay tuition for qualified universities. For 2022, an individual can contribute $16,000 without gift tax implications (or $32,000 for married couples who agree to split their gift). The annual amount is subject to inflation-adjustment. There is also a special gift provision allowing the donor to prepay five years of Sec 529 gifts up front without any gift tax consequences.
Contributions are not limited to parents, and it is not uncommon for grandparents and other relatives to also contribute to these plans.
Coverdell Education Savings Account - These accounts are education trusts that allow nondeductible contributions to be invested for a child’s education. Tax on earnings from these accounts is deferred until the funds are withdrawn, and if used for qualified education purposes, the entire withdrawal can be tax-free. Qualified use of these funds includes elementary and secondary education expenses in addition to post-secondary schools. A total of $2,000 per year can be contributed (but is not deductible) for each beneficiary under the age of 18. The ability to contribute to these plans phases out when the modified adjusted gross income of the contributor is between $190,000 and $220,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly, and between $95,000 and $110,000 for all others.
Education Tax Credits - If you currently have a child or children attending college, there are two tax credits, the American Opportunity Credit (partially refundable) and the Lifetime Learning Credit (nonrefundable), that you may be able to take advantage of. Both are available for qualified post-secondary education expenses for a taxpayer, spouse, and eligible dependents. Both credits will reduce your tax liability dollar for dollar until the tax reaches zero.
o The American Opportunity Credit (AOTC) - is a credit of up to $2,500 per student per year, covering the first four years of qualified post-secondary education. The credit is 100% of the first $2,000 of qualifying expenses plus 25% of the next $2,000 for a student attending college on at least a half-time basis. Forty percent of the American Opportunity credit is refundable (if the tax liability is reduced to zero). This credit phases out for joint filing taxpayers with modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) between $160,000 and $180,000, and between $80,000 and $90,000 for others (except no credit is allowed for those who file married separate returns).
o The Lifetime Learning Credit - is a credit of up to 20% of the first $10,000 of qualifying higher education expenses. Unlike the American Opportunity Credit, which is on a per-student basis, this credit is per taxpayer (family) not per student. In addition to post-secondary education, the Lifetime Credit applies to any course of instruction at an eligible institution taken to acquire or improve job skills. The MAGI phaseout ranges are the same as those for the AOTC, and like the AOTC, the Lifetime Learning Credit is not allowed for taxpayers who file married separate returns.
Qualifying expenses for these credits are generally limited to tuition. However, if required for the enrollment or attendance of the student, activity fees and fees for course-related books, supplies, and equipment qualify, but for the Lifetime Learning Credit course materials and supplies are eligible only if purchased directly from the educational institution.
While it is possible that Congress may add more tax-related benefits for assisting parents and students to pay for higher education costs, you shouldn’t depend on their actions (or inactions). You should consider starting the planning process as soon as possible, and don’t overlook the credits and deductions available for the current students in your family.
If you would like assistance in planning for your children’s future education or are considering borrowing money to pay for higher-education expenses, it may be appropriate to consult with this office for assistance.
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