Compare Education Credits and Tuition and Fees Deduction

There are several differences and some similarities between the AOTC, American Opportunity Tax credit, the LLC, Lifetime Learning credit and the Tuition and Fees deduction. You can claim all three benefits on the same return but not for the same student or same qualified expenses. See "No Double Benefit Allowed" for more information on claiming one or more education benefits.

 

Tax Year 2013 Education Credits and Tuition Deduction Comparison

Criteria AOTC LLC Tuition and Fees Deduction

 

Maximum credit or benefit

 

Up to $2,500 credit per eligible student

 

Up to $2,000 credit per return

 

Up to $4,000 taxable income reduction per return

 

Refundable or nonrefundable

 

40% of credit 

 

Not refundable

 

Does not apply

 

Limit on MAGI* for married filing jointly

 $180,000 $124,000  $160,000

 

Limit on MAGI* for single, head of household, or qualifying widow(er)

$90,000 $62,000 $80,000

 

Can you file married filing separately?

 No 

 

Dependent status

 Cannot claim credit if you are claimed as a dependent on someone else's return

 

Must you or your spouse be a U.S. Citizen or Resident Alien?

 

Yes, unless nonresident alien is treated as resident alien for tax purposes (see Publication 519 for information on nonresident alien status)

    

 

Number of years of post-secondary education available

 

Only if student hasn't completed 4 years of postsecondary education before 2013

 

All years of postsecondary education and for courses to acquire or improve job skills

 

All years of postsecondary education 

 

Number of tax years credit available

 

4 tax years per eligible student including any years former Hope credit claimed

 

Unlimited

 

Unlimited 

 

Type of program required

 

Student must be pursuing a degree or other recognized education credential 

 

Student does not need to be pursuing a degree or other recognized education credential

 

Student must be enrolled at eligible educational institution for one or more courses

 

Number of courses

 

Student must be enrolled at least half time for at least one academic period beginning in 2013

Available for one or more courses  Available for one or more courses at eligible educational institution 

 

Felony drug conviction

 

No felony drug convictions as of the end of 2013

 

Does not apply 

 

Does not apply

 

Qualified expenses

 

Tuition, required enrollment fees and course materials needed for course of study 

 

Tuition and fees required for enrollment or attendance 

 

Tuition and fees required for enrollment or attendance

Whom can you claim the benefit for?

 

  • You
  • Your spouse
  • Student you claim as a dependent on your return 

 

  • You
  • Your spouse
  • Student you claim as a dependent on your return

 

  • You
  • Your spouse
  • Student you claim as a dependent on your return 
Who must pay the qualified expenses?

 

 

  • You or your spouse

 

Payments for academic periods

 

Made in 2013 for academic periods beginning in 2013 or the first 3 months of 2014

    

 

ˆ Third Party-Qualified education expenses paid by a third party for you or your student claimed as a dependent on your return are considered paid by you for the AOTC and LLC. Payments by third parties include amounts paid by relatives or friends.

* MAGI, modified adjusted gross income, for most people is the amount of AGI, adjusted gross income, shown on your tax return. On Form 1040A, AGI is on line 22 and is the same as MAGI. If you file Form 1040, AGI is on line 38 and you add back the following:

  1. Foreign earned income exclusion,
  2. Foreign housing exclusion,
  3. Foreign housing deduction,
  4. Exclusion of income by bona fide residents of American Samoa, and
  5. Exclusion of income by bona fide residents of Puerto Rico.

 

To compute MAGI for the Tuition and Fees deduction, you compute the MAGI before putting any amounts on Form 1040A line 19 (tuition and fees) or Form 1040, line 34 (tuition and fees) or line 35 (domestic production activities deduction).

 
If you need to adjust your AGI to find your MAGI, there are worksheets in the Publication 970 to help you.

Education Benefits Resources:

 

Return to Refundable Credit Toolkit welcome page

 

Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 04-Jun-2014