USA Tax Question

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by Jason Beck, Nov 9, 2009.

  1. Jason Beck macrumors 68000

    Jason Beck

    Oct 19, 2009
    Cedar City, Utah
    I am a student here in the US and will be filing taxes for 2009 in the upcoming tax season. My question is, "Has any of you (students or otherwise) filed and claimed your college for the Lifetime Learner tax refund?" I just was browsing last night and was checking out the Obama Stimulus monies and saw his "Hope" refund for students going back to school. Then on the website I came across "Lifetime Learner Refund Credit." I went over it like a hundred times and it seems like I qualify. Meet the criteria anyway. Seems like an extra 2500$ that I can actually get back! Well, because your student loans (tuition) count as income. After I minus the Pell Grant and do the required math as per irs guidelines, it seems as though I can actually get this!

    Has anyone done it? :confused:
  2. yg17 macrumors G5


    Aug 1, 2004
    St. Louis, MO
    I have no idea about the credit thing, but since when did student loans count as income? :confused: Is that something new?
  3. steve2112 macrumors 68040


    Feb 20, 2009
    East of Lyra, Northwest of Pegasus
    Student loans are not considered income, since you have to repay them. Grants and fellowships may be taxable income, depending on circumstances.

    Taxable income for students from the IRS:,,id=96674,00.html

    I've never used the Hope credit, though. It looks like for 2009, they moved it to four years worth of school, and you can claim the credit, even if you don't owe any taxes.
  4. rowsdower macrumors 6502

    Jun 2, 2009
    I have used both the Hope credit and the Lifetime Learner credit. Nearly any student qualifies for Lifetime Learner, and it can be used as many times as you want, as long as you have educational expenses that year.
  5. Zombie Acorn macrumors 65816

    Zombie Acorn

    Feb 2, 2009
    Toronto, Ontario
    IIRC I got some money back last year that covered part of my interest payments on student loans. That was a year ago though so I don't remember the exact details.
  6. IntheNet macrumors regular


    Oct 6, 2009
    Jason: I am not aware of this "hope" tax credit but it sounds fishy... regardless note that if Obama gets his socialized medicine bill into law you're going to need this $2500 to pay for your mandatory health insurance that everyone must have or go to prison (yes even college students)! Enjoy!!!
  7. rhsgolfer33 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 6, 2006
    I believe you can only take one; either the Lifetime Learner or the Hope credit. The Hope credit is only allowed for the first four years of post-secondary education. That means if you are getting a graduate degree you will use the Lifetime Learner $2000 credit.

    I am somewhat familiar with both of these credits, however, you should consult a tax professional when you go to do your tax returns, especially if you are not a U.S. citizen (there may be some complicated benefits/penalties that you may not know about; its worth paying some one to prepare your return properly).

    Also, here is a decent website with some easy to understand info about both the Lifetime Learner and Hope tax credits.

    Why does it sound fishy? Its entirely legitimate... Just because you don't know about a tax credit doesn't mean its fishy. There are numerous tax credits, phaseouts, exemptions, etc. that you wouldn't know about unless you were a tax professional, it doesn't mean they're not legitimate. By the way, some higher education institutions offer basic health insurance plans that are inexpensive; I get a plan that is included in my tuition and is fairly decent for the price.
  8. iOrlando macrumors 68000

    Jul 20, 2008
    not sure of the exact name of the credit but there is one.

    As a general rule, I tend to push posters who have questions that actually can impact their financials and lives to seek professional help/sources. I would go to the IRS website, call them, etc. We, as macrumors posters, might have the answers, but I would never just go by what we say...but thats just me.

    anyways..cheapest way is just to buy turboxtax or taxcut when its time. They walk you through the process and you can say you are a student..blah blah blah..couldnt be simplier.

    people always seem to forget about the education deductions when complaining about college costs...
  9. steve2112 macrumors 68040


    Feb 20, 2009
    East of Lyra, Northwest of Pegasus
    These tax credits have been around for quite a while. I believe it was either the late Clinton years or early W. Bush years that it came out. This latest update is just a tweak to existing law.

    Oh yeah, and stuff like that belongs in PRSI.

    I agree with that. I tend to have fairly simple returns, but both of these have worked for me for years. Also, if your income is below a certain level, they are free to use. (The web version, anyway, which is almost identical to the full version.)
  10. Foreverwontcome macrumors member


    May 25, 2008
    Stow, Ohio
    all "tuition" based stuff can be filed under a 1098-t but it is based on how many years. you also can use your loan ammount as well
  11. leomac08 macrumors 68020


    Jul 12, 2009
    Los Angeles, CA
    i'm kinda scared that umma owe money to uncle sam....i'm a dependent college student....who also works part-time and made more than $4K this year.
  12. abijnk macrumors 68040


    Oct 15, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    It is deductions/credits like this that make TurboTax Free so great. Just input all your information and it will figure out which one of the deductions/credits you qualify for (there are actually 3 education related ones: Hope, Lifetime, and Tuition & Fees) that gives you the biggest benefit.
  13. PDACPA macrumors regular


    Jul 16, 2008
    These education credits have been around awhile. This year though the modified the Hope Credit, Lifetime Learning (not Learner) credit, tuition and fees credit and the new American Opportunity Credit for this year which allows more people to take these credits.

    You have to do some calculations and meet some requirements (my software runs an optimization to figure out which works the best).

    Another difference is the American Opportunity Credit is now including some books in the calculations that were not permitted in the past.

    As a side note, if you never claimed them in the past, you may want to look back at the prior year and see if it is worth amending the tax return.

    Remember, credits are dollar for dollar tax dedution where has a deduction (say contributions) reduces your tax by a percentage based on your tax rate (ie 15% 25%).

    My screen name might make sense to some now!:D
  14. jav6454 macrumors P6


    Nov 14, 2007
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    As an international student, I decided to e-file this year. I went to TurboTax online and did them. Seriously, it's very EASY and all it takes is for you to answer some yes/no questions and fill out the W-2 numbers as well as your Tuition Statement. I got $1.5k back due to that same fund (albeit it's renamed now to American Opportunity Credit) you have plus what I over paid over the year. The maximum was $2.5k, but I didn't get that. Got much less.

    Like others have said. Go out and get TurboTax or H&R Block, simple fix for doubts; I went with the earlier.

    If there is a mistake (as in you took extra money), do not panic. All they will ask is for you to pay it back.

    Hope it helps.

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