Six Facts about the American Opportunity Tax Credit
August 27, 2010 – IRS Summertime Tax Tip 2010-23
There is still time left to take advantage of the American Opportunity Tax Credit, a credit that will help many parents and college students offset the cost of college. This tax credit is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and is available through December 31, 2010. It can be claimed by eligible taxpayers for college expenses paid in 2009 and 2010.
Here are six important facts the IRS wants you to know about the American Opportunity Tax Credit:
- This credit, which expands and renames the existing Hope Credit, can be claimed for qualified tuition and related expenses that you pay for higher education in 2009 and 2010. Qualified tuition and related expenses include tuition, related fees, books and other required course materials.
- The credit is equal to 100 percent of the first $2,000 spent per student each year and 25 percent of the next $2,000. Therefore, the full $2,500 credit may be available to a taxpayer who pays $4,000 or more in qualifying expenses for an eligible student.
- The full credit is generally available to eligible taxpayers who make less than $80,000 or $160,000 for married couples filing a joint return. The credit is gradually reduced, however, for taxpayers with incomes above these levels.
- Forty percent of the credit is refundable, so even those who owe no tax can get up to $1,000 of the credit for each eligible student as cash back.
- The credit can be claimed for qualified expenses paid for any of the first four years of post-secondary education.
- You cannot claim the tuition and fees tax deduction in the same year that you claim the American Opportunity Tax Credit or the Lifetime Learning Credit. You must choose to either take the credit or the deduction and should consider which is more beneficial for you.
Complete details on the American Opportunity Tax Credit and other key tax provisions of the Recovery Act are available at IRS.gov/recovery.
TaxACT helps you determine if you benefit more from the American Opportunity or Lifetime Learning Credit. TaxACT will also guide you through other education tax breaks. See exactly which tax breaks you'll be eligible for and do your year-end tax planning with the preview versions of TaxACT 2010 Free Federal and Deluxe Editions, available in October 2010.
In the meantime, visit TaxACT's Tax Information page to learn about other tax breaks you may be eligible for on your 2010 return.