Possible Tax credits for tution and fees

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 17, 2003

River Parish residents attending college or taking courses may not only be getting smarter; they may also be sav ing valuable tax dollars.

According to the Society of Louisiana CPAs (LCPA), the Hope Scholarship Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit are valuable to many middle-income taxpayers since the credits reduce tax bills dollar for dollar. Thus, a $1,000 tax credit may save a taxpayer $1,000 in taxes.

Hope Scholarship Credit

“Available since January 1, 1998, the Hope Credit equals 100 percent of the first $1,000 paid for qualified tuition and fees, plus 50 percent of the next $1,000, for a maximum tax credit of $1,500 per year,” states Robert S. Angelico, LCPA New Orleans chapter president. “The Hope Credit is available to eligible students in the first two years of college or vocational school. To be eligible, the student must carry at least one-half the normal full-time workload for the course of study he or she is pursuing. Charges associated with room, board, books, equipment, or living expenses are generally not eligible.

Lifetime Learning Tax Credit

The less restrictive Lifetime Learning Tax Credit lives up to its name. It targets not only college, graduate and professional students, but also adults going back to school or taking courses to improve or update their skills, according to a local CPA. Students do not have to carry a minimum course load to be eligible, and there is no limit on the number of years the credit can be used.

For 2002, a family could claim a tax credit for 20 percent of the first $5,000 of qualified tuition and fees. In 2003, the maximum amount of qualified tuition and expenses doubles to $10,000.

Unlike the Hope Credit, which can be claimed for each qaulifying person, the Lifetime Learning Credit is calculated on a family basis.

To determine if you qualify for a tax credit, you should contact a local CPA.