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Back-to-School Could Mean Tax Savings for Floridians

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PHOTO: The IRS isn't necessarily on people's minds as they head back to school. But experts recommend keeping a careful record of education expenses for those who qualify for an education-related tax credit. Photo credit: Florida State University
PHOTO: The IRS isn't necessarily on people's minds as they head back to school. But experts recommend keeping a careful record of education expenses for those who qualify for an education-related tax credit. Photo credit: Florida State University
August 27, 2014

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Thousands of Floridians are heading back to school this fall, spending millions of dollars on advanced education. In addition to the student loans and grants available, Uncle Sam also has programs to offer relief in the form of tax credits.

"There's a couple tax credits that you can get," said Internal Revenue Service spokesman Michael Dobzinski, "and what's great about a credit is a credit is, a dollar-for-dollar reduction in your taxes."

The tax programs available include the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which offers $2,500 annually for an eligible student, and the Lifetime Learning Credit of up to $2,000 for qualifying students. According to the U.S. Department of Education, 47 percent of all undergraduates received education tax benefits in one recent school year.

While tax filing season is a few months away, Dobzinski said, now is the time for students to keep careful records of school expenses so they can take full advantage of the credits at tax time.

"Keep track of everything that you spend," he said, "and then at the end of the year, you'll know whether, in fact, some of these expenses qualify or you can figure that out, and then you can get a credit on your tax return."

In some situations, he said, a person can deduct their tuition, as well as the costs of work-related education expenses. Those include advanced training required by an employer or that is necessary to advance in a field. The Coverdell Education Savings Account and 5-2-9 Plans also allow taxpayers to allocate money pre-tax for education expenses.

More tax-credit information is online at irs.gov. Education statistics are at nces.ed.gov.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - FL