Education tax credit - can we claim it twice for two students?
August 16, 2009 4:38 PM   Subscribe

Can more than one student filing on the same US tax return claim the new American Opportunity Tax Credit?

I am currently a half-time undergraduate student at a US university. I plan to claim on my 2009 US Tax return (1040) the American Opportunity Tax Credit (an expansion of the Hope tax credit), so as to receive a refund for some of my tuition expenses. In addition, Mrs. Deadmessenger plans to enroll in college for the first time this semester, and thus will have substantial eligible expenses of her own.

So, here's our question: The IRS's webpage is pretty clear on the fact that the maximum annual credit is $2500, representing 100% of the first $2000 in eligible expenses, and 25% of the next $2000. Is that $2500 limit a per-student limit, or a per-family limit? In other words, if I rack up $4000 in eligible expenses, and Mrs. Deadmessenger does as well, would the credit on our joint tax return be $2500 (meaning that the limit is per-family), or $5000 ($2500 for each of us, or a per-student limit)

The IRS' FAQ on the credit doesn't address this scenario.

Oh, and just to get it out of the way: You are not my tax professional, accountant, CPA, tax attorney, enrolled agent or tax preparer. Thanks in advance for your help anyway!
posted by deadmessenger to Education (1 answer total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It is "per student" with a cap based upon AGI per tax return. From the IRS (with my emphasis):
Figuring the Credit: The amount of the Hope credit (per eligible student) is the sum of:

100% of the first $1,200 ($2,400 if a student in a Midwestern disaster area) of qualified education expenses you paid for the eligible student, and

50% of the next $1,200 ($2,400 if a student in a Midwestern disaster area) of qualified education expenses you paid for that student.

The maximum amount of Hope credit you can claim in 2008 is $1,800 ($3,600 if a student in a Midwestern disaster area) times the number of eligible students. You can claim the full $1,800 ($3,600) for each eligible student for whom you paid at least $2,400 ($3,600) of qualified education expenses. However, the credit may be reduced based on your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI). See Effect of the Amount of Your Income on the Amount of Your Credit on the next page.
posted by webhund at 7:02 PM on August 16, 2009

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