Claiming The Lifetime Learning Credit

The lifetime learning credit is another valuable educational tax credit that can be claimed to offset college expenses. You can claim the lifetime learning credit for qualified tuition and related expenses paid for yourself, your spouse, and any dependent on your tax return who is enrolled at any accredited college, university, vocational school, or other accredited post-secondary educational institution. As its name implies, there is no limit for the number of years for which the lifetime learning credit can be claimed for any student.

Please note, however, that unlike the American opportunity credit:

• The lifetime learning credit is not based on the student’s workload. It is allowed for one or more courses.
• The lifetime learning credit is not limited to students in the first four years of post-secondary education; therefore expenses for graduate-level degree courses are eligible.
• Felony drug convictions are permitted.
• Expenses for course-related books, supplies, and equipment can be claimed ONLY if they are paid to the institution, as a condition of enrollment or attendance.
• The lifetime learning credit is a nonrefundable credit. This means that it can reduce your tax to zero, but if the credit is more than your tax, the excess credit will not be refunded to you.

To be eligible to claim this credit, your expenses must be for courses taken as part of a post-secondary degree program, or for courses taken to improve or acquire job skills.

The amount of the credit is 20% of the first $10,000 of qualified tuition and related expenses paid for ALL eligible students on your tax return. This means then, that in contrast to the American opportunity credit, there is a dollar limit per tax return for this credit; the maximum amount that can be claimed on any single tax return is $2,000.

To be eligible to claim the lifetime learning credit, your modified AGI must be less than $53,000 ($107,000 if filing jointly). Over this level of earnings, the credit is completely phased out.

The primary objective of this article is to empower taxpayers to learn to do their own taxes. For more detailed information on all your deductible educational expenses, grab yourself a copy of “Doing Your Own Taxes is as Easy as 1, 2, 3,” ($6.98) on

Milton G Boothe is an IRS Enrolled Agent with over twenty years of tax and financial accounting experience, including several years at PricewaterhouseCoopers. He is also a British certified Chartered Accountant. He is currently employed in private tax practices where he helps people resolve their tax problems, minimize their taxes, and routinely represents the interests of taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service. As an Enrolled Agent (EA) Boothe is a federally-authorized tax practitioner who has technical expertise in the field of taxation and who is empowered by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to represent taxpayers before all administrative levels of the IRS for audits, collections, and appeals.
Milton G Boothe is also the author of several tax publications, wherein he encourages people to empower themselves by learning to do their own taxes.

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