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A Look At The Lifetime Learning Tax Credit

The content of this post is not intended to replace the advice of a licensed tax professional. Consult a qualified tax professional for questions specific to your individual circumstances.

In today’s changing job market, upgrading your job skills or taking classes to further your career is a must in some fields. The Lifetime Learning Tax Credit (LLTC) can help you offset some of the cost.  With post-secondary tuition and fees continuing to rise, this tax credit can help ease the financial burden.

The LLTC is also applicable for your eligible dependent if they are continuing beyond the four-year limits of the American Opportunity Tax credit.

You can claim up 20% of the first $10,000 ($2,000 per year) in eligible expenses for as long as you’re enrolled in courses in a qualified post-secondary program. You don’t need to be working toward a specific degree or certificate. Unlike the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which is more limited in scope and time frame, the LLTC offers greater flexibility. It’s a great option for working adults who need or want to take continuing education courses.

The LLTC is applied once per tax payer per year.

Lifetime Learning Tax Credit Eligibility

  • No one can claim you as a dependent on their tax return
  • You’ve either received or will receive a 1098-T form from a qualified foreign or domestic post-secondary program
  • Your Modified Adjusted Gross Income is $68,000 or less if you’re single, $136,000 or less if you’re married.
  • You must apply the credit toward related expenses such as textbooks, supplies and equipment related to your coursework
  • You can also apply the LLTC toward items that were purchased with student loan proceeds.
  • The credit can be applied toward fees that were not refunded if you had to withdraw from school.

You’re Not Eligible If:

  • You’re married filing separate
  • You’re claiming the American Opportunity Tax Credit in the same year
  • You’re claiming the LLC on behalf of a non-eligible dependent
  • You or your spouse are nonresident aliens

How To Claim the LLTC

In order to claim the LLTC, you’ll need to file form 8863 with your federal returns. You or the person claiming the credit will need to have a social security number.

The LLTC is applicable for as long as you continue to further your education.  Even though you won’t need to be pursuing a degree or certificate, you can deduct up to $2,000 in eligible expenses.

It’s always a good idea to check with a licensed tax professional regarding your unique tax scenario, especially if you also have a 529 college savings plan. Your tax pro is the best source for information regarding the LLTC and other deductions you may be eligible for as you continue your education.