education credits

Education Credits Form 8863 Starting Feb. 14, 2013

The IRS announced that taxpayers will be able to start filing tax forms this week covering education credits.

Starting on Thursday, Feb. 14, the IRS plans to start processing Form 8863, Education Credits.

This step clears the way for almost all taxpayers to start filing their 2012 tax returns.

These education credits (and Sundays depreciation and Amortization) forms affected the largest groups of taxpayers who weren’t yet able to file following the Jan. 30 opening of the 2013 tax season.

The IRS will be able to accept the education credits forms following the completion of reprogramming and testing of its systems. Work continues on preparing IRS systems to accept the remaining tax forms affected by the American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA) enacted by Congress on Jan. 2.

The IRS also announced it will start accepting the remaining forms affected by the January legislation the first week of March. A specific date will be announced later. Most of those in this group file more complex tax returns and typically file closer to the deadline or obtain an extension. A full list of the forms that will be accepted the first week of March is available on IRS.gov.

This week’s opening covers taxpayers using:

Form 8863, Education Credits. Form 8863 is used to claim two higher education credits — the American Opportunity Tax Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit.

For taxpayers using e-file, most software companies are now accepting tax returns with these forms and will submit them after the IRS begins accepting them later this week.

education credits

Tax Returns Claiming Education Credits Accepted by Mid-February

As preparations continue for the Jan. 30 opening of the 2013 filing season for most taxpayers, the Internal Revenue Service announced today that processing of tax returns claiming education credits will begin by the middle of February.

Taxpayers using Form 8863, Education Credits, can begin filing their tax returns after the IRS updates its processing systems. Form 8863 is used to claim two higher education credits — the American Opportunity Tax Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit.

The IRS emphasized that the delayed start will have no impact on taxpayers claiming other education-related tax benefits, such as the tuition and fees deduction and the student loan interest deduction. People otherwise able to file and claiming these benefits can start filing Jan. 30.

 

Tax Returns Claiming Education Credits Accepted by Mid-February

As it does every year, the IRS reviews and tests its systems in advance of the opening of the tax season to protect taxpayers from processing errors and refund delays. The IRS discovered during testing that programming modifications are needed to accurately process Forms 8863.  Filers who are otherwise able to file but use the Form 8863 will be able to file by mid-February. No action needs to be taken by the taxpayer or their tax professional.  Typically through the mid-February period, about 3 million tax returns include Form 8863, less than a quarter of those filed during the year.

The IRS remains on track to open the tax season on Jan. 30 for most taxpayers. The Jan. 30 opening includes people claiming the student loan interest deduction on the Form 1040 series or the higher education tuition or fees on Form 8917, Tuition and Fees Deduction. Forms that will be able to be filed later are listed here.

education credits

Offsetting Your Education Costs

Education tax credits can help offset the costs of higher education for yourself or a dependent. The Hope Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit are two education credits available which may benefit you the student. Because they are credits rather than deductions, you may be able to subtract them in full, dollar for dollar, from your federal income tax.

 

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The Hope Credit

  • The credit applies for the first two years of post-secondary education, such as college or vocational school. It does not apply to the third, fourth, or higher years of undergraduate programs, to graduate programs, or to professional-level programs.
  • It can be worth up to $1,800 ($3,600 if a student in a Midwestern disaster area) per eligible student, per year.
  • You’re allowed a credit of 100% of the first $1,200 ($2,400 if a student in a Midwestern disaster area) of qualified tuition and related fees paid during the tax year, plus 50% of the next $1,200 ($2,400 if a student in a Midwestern disaster area).
  • Each student must be enrolled at least half-time for at least one academic period which began during the year.
  • The student must be free of any federal or state felony conviction for possessing or distributing a controlled substance as of the end of the tax year.

 

The Lifetime Learning Credit

  • The credit applies to undergraduate, graduate and professional degree courses, including instruction to acquire or improve job skills, regardless of the number of years in the program.
  • If you qualify, your credit equals 20% (40% if a student in a Midwestern disaster area) of the first $10,000 of post-secondary tuition and fees you pay during the year, for a maximum credit of $2,000 ($4,000 if a student in a Midwestern disaster area) per tax return.

You cannot claim both the Hope and Lifetime Learning Credits for the same student in the same year. You also cannot claim either credit if you claim a tuition and fees deduction for the same student in the same year. To qualify for either credit, you must pay post-secondary tuition and certain related expenses for yourself, your spouse or your dependent. The credit may be claimed by the parent or the student, but not by both. Students who are claimed as a dependent cannot claim the credit.

 

Offsetting Your Education Costs

These credits are phased out for Modified Adjusted Gross Income over $48,000 ($96,000 for married filing jointly) and eliminated completely for Modified Adjusted Gross Income of $58,000 or more ($116,000 for married filing jointly). If the taxpayer is married, the credit may be claimed only on a joint return.

For more information, see Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education, which can be obtained below or by calling the IRS at 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Links:
Form 8863, Education Credits
Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education
Tax Topic 605