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IRS Presents: Seven Important Facts about Your Appeal Rights

The IRS provides an appeals system for those who do not agree with the results of a tax return examination or with other adjustments to their tax liability. Here are the top seven things to know when it comes to your appeal rights.

  1. When the IRS makes an adjustment to your tax return, you will receive a report or letter explaining the proposed adjustments. This letter will also explain how to request a conference with an Appeals office should you not agree with the IRS findings on your tax return.
  2. In addition to tax return examinations, many other tax obligations can be appealed.  You may also appeal penalties, interest, trust fund recovery penalties, offers in compromise, liens and levies.
  3. You are urged to be prepared with appropriate records and documentation to support your position if you request a conference with an IRS Appeals employee.
  4. Appeals conferences are informal meetings. You may represent yourself or have someone else represent you. Those allowed to represent taxpayers include attorneys, certified public accountants or individuals enrolled to practice before the IRS.
  5. The IRS Appeals Office is separate from – and independent of – the IRS office taking the action you may disagree with. The Appeals Office is the only level of administrative appeal within the agency.
  6. If you do not reach agreement with IRS Appeals or if you do not wish to appeal within the IRS, you may appeal certain actions through the courts.
  7. For further information on the appeals process, refer to Publication 5, Your Appeal Rights and How To Prepare a Protest If You Don’t Agree. This publication, along with more on IRS Appeals is available at IRS.gov.

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IRS Presents: Five Ways to Offset Education Costs

College can be very expensive. To help students and their parents, the IRS offers the following five ways to offset education costs.

  1. The American Opportunity Credit This credit can help parents and students pay part of the cost of the first four years of college. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act modifies the existing Hope Credit for tax years 2009 and 2010, making it available to a broader range of taxpayers. Eligible taxpayers may qualify for the maximum annual credit of $2,500 per student. Generally, 40 percent of the credit is refundable, which means that you may be able to receive up to $1,000, even if you owe no taxes.
  2. The Hope Credit The credit can help students and parents pay part of the cost of the first two years of college. This credit generally applies to 2008 and earlier tax years. However, for tax year 2009 a special expanded Hope Credit of up to $3,600 may be claimed for a student attending college in a Midwestern disaster area as long as you do not claim an American Opportunity Tax Credit for any other student in 2009.
  3. The Lifetime Learning Credit This credit can help pay for undergraduate, graduate and professional degree courses – including courses to improve job skills – regardless of the number of years in the program.  Eligible taxpayers may qualify for up to $2,000 – $4,000 if a student in a Midwestern disaster area – per tax return.
  4. Enhanced benefits for 529 college savings plans Certain computer technology purchases are now added to the list of college expenses that can be paid for by a qualified tuition program, commonly referred to as a 529 plan.  For 2009 and 2010, the law expands the definition of qualified higher education expenses to include expenses for computer technology and equipment or Internet access and related services.
  5. Tuition and fees deduction Students and their parents may be able to deduct qualified college tuition and related expenses of up to $4,000. This deduction is an adjustment to income, which means the deduction will reduce the amount of your income subject to tax. The Tuition and Fees Deduction may be beneficial to you if you do not qualify for the American opportunity, Hope, or lifetime learning credits.

You cannot claim the American Opportunity and the Hope and Lifetime Learning Credits for the same student in the same year. You also cannot claim any of the credits if you claim a tuition and fees deduction for the same student in the same year. To qualify for an education 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.

For more information, see Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education, which can be obtained online at IRS.gov or by calling the IRS at 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).
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The IRS Presents: Tax Credit Helps Pay for Higher Education Expenses

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was passed in early 2009 and created the American Opportunity Credit. This educational tax credit – which expanded the existing Hope credit – helps parents and students pay for college and college-related expenses.

Here are the top nine things the Internal Revenue Service wants you to know about this valuable credit and how you can benefit from it when you file your 2009 taxes.

  1. The credit can be claimed for tuition and certain fees paid for higher education in 2009 and 2010.
  2. The American Opportunity Credit can be claimed for expenses paid for any of the first four years of post-secondary education.
  3. The credit is worth up to $2,500 and is based on a percentage of the cost of qualified tuition and related expenses paid during the taxable year for each eligible student. This is a $700 increase from the Hope Credit.
  4. The term “qualified tuition and related expenses” has been expanded to include expenditures for required course materials. For this purpose, the term “course materials” means books, supplies and equipment required for a course of study.
  5. Taxpayers will receive a tax credit based on 100 percent of the first $2,000 of tuition, fees and course materials paid during the taxable year, plus 25 percent of the next $2,000 of tuition, fees and course materials paid during the taxable year.
  6. 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.
  7. To be eligible for the full credit, your modified adjusted gross income must be $80,000 or less — $160,000 or less for joint filers.
  8. The credit begins to decrease for individuals with incomes above $80,000 or $160,000 for joint filers and is not available for individuals who make more than $90,000 or $180,000 for joint filers.
  9. The credit is claimed using Form 8863, Education Credits, (American Opportunity, Hope, and Lifetime Learning Credits), and is attached to Form 1040 or 1040A.

For more information about the American Opportunity Tax Credit visit the IRS Web site at IRS.gov/recovery.
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