Home & Leisure

Like zombies, 3 tax breaks return from the dead to further confuse filers

Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Home and Consumer News

"It's not for everyone as most taxpayers will choose the education credits," said Marshall Hunt, certified public accountant and director of tax policy for the Accounting Aid Society's tax assistance program in metro Detroit.

"The deduction can benefit some taxpayers, especially those who might not qualify for the American Opportunity Credit or benefit from the Lifetime Learning Credit," Hunt said.

The American Opportunity Credit applies to undergraduate expenses and is limited to four years of coverage.

Experts say the qualified tuition deduction can be used by families who had maxed out on four years for the American Opportunity Credit but earned too much money to later qualify for the Lifetime Learning Credit. If your modified adjusted gross income is more than $66,000 for singles or $132,000 for joint filers, you cannot claim the Lifetime Learning Credit.

But there's a little more room with the deduction for tuition. Taxpayers can deduct up to $4,000 if their income is $65,000 or less if single or $130,000 or less if married filing jointly.

Or taxpayers may be able to deduct up to $2,000 if their income is between $65,000 and $80,000 if single or between $130,000 and $160,000 if married filing jointly.

Sponsored Video Stories from LifeZette

You cannot claim the deduction if your modified adjusted gross income is more than $80,000 if single or $160,000 if filing a joint return.

Confusion about tax benefits relating to higher education expenses can drive some taxpayers to pick the wrong option. So you might not necessarily want to file an amended return now that the deduction has returned. Taxpayers will need to look at their own financial situation.

Another issue: Qualified expenses being deducted must be reduced if paid with tax-free interest from Education Savings Bonds, tax-free distributions from Coverdell Education Savings Accounts, and tax-free earnings withdrawn from Qualified Tuition Plans, including savings in a 529 plan.

"You've got all these moving parts," Steber said.


swipe to next page


blog comments powered by Disqus