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American Opportunity Credit, Amendments and New Return Question

Ok, so this year while doing my taxes, I realized that I mistakenly marked one of my dependents as finishing her first four years of college, when really she hadn't. I downloaded the file and software and made the changes, and now says I am owed a refund. However, I find it too good to be true. I'm scared I messed up or something. Changing that fact makes both students eligible for the AOTC. I thought that the AOTC can only be claimed once a year. It looks like I was confused, it meant that it can only be claimed once a year per student and not once a year across all dependents, right?

Is first four years of college, literally first four years or does it mean, if they have completed their bachelor's degree? 

Also, is my assessment correct? Can both of my dependents claim the AOTC for the same year? 

 Also, is there any likelihood something like this would trigger an audit? 

Thank you

1 Reply
Intuit Alumni

American Opportunity Credit, Amendments and New Return Question

The American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) can be claimed for more than one student on a tax return as long as each student is eligible for the credit.

The question regarding whether the student has completed the first four years of college is referring to whether they have four years of college credit.  This may mean that a bachelor’s degree has been completed, but it doesn’t have to mean that.  The student may have four years of college credit under their belt, but may not have their degree yet due to a change in major or another factor.  If that is the case, then they would not be eligible to claim the AOTC because of the four years of credit requirement. 

Additionally, there is a limit for the number of years that the AOTC can be claimed for the same student.  It can only be claimed for four years, even if four years of college credit has not yet been achieved.  This question is asked a little further in the process of completing the Education Expense section of your return.

Finally, claiming the AOTC for two students on the same return is not likely to trigger an audit.  It can happen for many taxpayers when you have two students in college at the same time.

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