Student Gets Caught By The IRS On Education Credit

The credits for education are based on eligible expenses paid in the current year for academic periods beginning in the current year and/or the first three months of the following year. In a recent case, a student paid tuition of $5,895 in December 2011 for the spring 2012 semester that started February 1.

The student voluntarily made the payments early because the funds were available and he wanted to be sure the spring semester fees were paid. He used these payments to claim the American Opportunity credit in 2012. The IRS disallowed the credit ruling the credit had to be taken in 2011. The U.S. Tax Court upheld the IRS on the grounds that the credit can be taken only in the year the expenses are paid [Lucas Matthew McCarville. TC Summary Opinion 2216­14].

Dr. Goedde is a former college professor who taught income tax, auditing, personal finance, and financial accounting and has 25 years of experience preparing income tax returns and consulting. He published many accounting and tax articles in professional journals. He is presently retired and does tax return preparation and consulting. He also writes articles on various aspects of taxation. During tax season he works as a volunteer income tax return preparer for seniors and low income persons in the IRS’s VITA program.

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