Topic 513 - Educational Expenses

You may be able to deduct work-related educational expenses paid during the year as an itemized deduction on Form 1040, Schedule A (PDF). To be deductible, your expenses must be for education that (1) maintains or improves your job skills or (2) is required by your employer or by law to keep your salary, status or job. However, even if the education meets either of these tests, the education cannot be part of a program that will qualify you for a new trade or business, or is needed to meet the minimal educational requirements of your trade or business.

Although the education must relate to your present work, educational expenses incurred during temporary absence from your job may be deductible. However, after your temporary absence, you must return to the same kind of work. Usually, absence from work for one year or less is considered temporary.

Expenses that can be deducted include:

  • Tuition, books, supplies, lab fees, and similar items
  • Certain transportation and travel costs, and
  • Other educational expenses, such as the cost of research and typing

If you are an employee, you generally must complete Form 2106 (PDF) or Form 2106-EZ (PDF). Educational expenses are deducted as miscellaneous itemized deductions on Form 1040, Schedule A (PDF); they are subject to the 2% of adjusted gross income limit. For more information on the 2% limit, refer to Publication 529 and/or Form 1040, Schedule A Instructions (PDF).

Self-employed individuals include educational expenses on Form 1040, Schedule C (PDF), Form 1040, Schedule C-EZ (PDF) or Form 1040, Schedule F (PDF).

Your employer may report the educational assistance payments on your Form W-2 (PDF) in the appropriate box under "other." Taxable reimbursements will be reported by your employer as income to you in the appropriate box of Form W-2.

For more information on educational expenses, education tax credits or information for specific types of employees, such as performing artists, refer to Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education.

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Page Last Reviewed or Updated: December 12, 2013