You may be able to deduct qualified tuition and related expenses that you pay for yourself, your spouse, or a dependent, as a tuition and fees deduction. To determine whether your expenses are qualified, refer to Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education. You do not have to itemize to take this deduction. Instead of a tuition and fees deduction, you may be able to claim tuition and fees as (1) an American opportunity tax credit or lifetime learning credit; or (2) if applicable, a business expense, which is generally an itemized deduction. If you claim qualified tuition and fees as a tuition and fees deduction, the deduction is taken as an adjustment to income on Form 1040 (PDF) or Form 1040A (PDF). For more information regarding this deduction, the credits or education business expenses, refer to Publication 970.
You cannot take the tuition and fees deduction on your income tax return if your filing status is married filing separately, or if you may be claimed as a dependent on someone else's return. The deduction is reduced or eliminated if your modified adjusted gross income exceeds certain limits that depend on your filing status. You cannot claim the tuition and fees deduction and an American opportunity tax credit or lifetime learning credit for the same student in the same tax year. If the educational expenses are also allowable as a business expense, the tuition and fees deduction may be claimed in conjunction with a business expense deduction, but the same expenses cannot be deducted twice.
You cannot claim a deduction or credit based on expenses paid with tax-free scholarship, fellowship, grant, or education savings account funds such as a Coverdell education savings account, tax-free savings bond interest or employer-provided education assistance. The same rule applies to expenses you pay with a tax-exempt distribution from a qualified tuition plan, except that you can deduct qualified expenses you pay only with that part of the distribution that is a return of your contribution to the plan.
Page Last Reviewed or Updated: December 12, 2013