Things College Students Should Know About Taxes

Taxes for college students are quite different from a regular taxpayer.

Taxes for college students are quite different from a regular taxpayer.

The Internal Revenue Service sympathizes with college students and understands that college is just plain expensive. To help students with their finances, the IRS created a few tax-saving credits and deductions. The American Opportunity credit and the Lifetime Learning credit cut down on your tax bill. After you graduate and start paying back your loans, the student loan interest deduction can knock down some of your hard-earned income and make less of it taxable.

Can a College Student Put Down a Tax Credit and Interest Deduction for College?

Unfortunately, the IRS doesn't let you claim both a tax credit and the student loan interest deduction for yourself in the same year. The rules are different for your parents. For example, if you and your sibling are in school at the same, they can claim an educational credit for one of you and take the interest deduction for the other one.

Can a Full-Time College Student Get a Tax Credit if They Didn't Work?

If you didn't work, you probably won't have a tax bill, but you still might be able to get a refund. The American Opportunity credit is a partially refundable credit; if you can prove you paid out-of-pocket for college expenses, you can get back up to $1,000 with this credit.

Can a Computer Expense for a College Student Be Claimed on Your Taxes?

Not having a computer can make it almost impossible to do coursework. Unfortunately, unless the school requires you to have a computer as a condition of attendance or enrollment, you can't claim this as a tax deduction. The IRS doesn't think you need a personal one since most schools have open computer labs. The only exception is if you're talking classes online and the computer is used for that purpose.

Can You File Tax on College Student Who Receives a Pell Grant?

Pell grants are tax-free money for you to go to college, which means the IRS won't tax it if it's used for qualified educational expenses. If you got a Pell grant to pay for college, and the amount was more than your expenses, the remaining amount is taxable unless your income is less than the minimum filing requirements. The rule for your parents to claim you as a dependent is similar. If you're over 19 or 24 and a full-time student, the Pell leftovers can't be more than half of your support costs. For any other situation, the amount can't be more than $3,800 as of 2012.

Can a Full-Time College Student Get His Federal Taxes Back?

As long as you pay federal income taxes or can claim certain credits, you can get a refund. The IRS doesn't care if you're a student getting federal help to stay in school. As of 2012, if you're single and made more than $9,750, or married filing jointly and made more than $19,500, you have to file a tax return.


About the Author

Angela M. Wheeland specializes in topics related to taxation, technology, gaming and criminal law. She has contributed to several websites and serves as the lead content editor for a construction-related website. Wheeland holds an Associate of Arts in accounting and criminal justice. She has owned and operated her own income tax-preparation business since 2006.

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/ Images