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2021 is my first year filling federal taxes. I have been a full time student since 2018. How do I apply for Education Credits for years 18-20 on my 2021 Tax return?

I have my IRS Transcripts for 18,19,20. Do I add all of them up and use the sum of all the years?
3 Replies

2021 is my first year filling federal taxes. I have been a full time student since 2018. How do I apply for Education Credits for years 18-20 on my 2021 Tax return?

No   You cannot do that.  Each tax year is separate.   Only 2021 information can be entered on a 2021 tax return.  If you need to file tax returns for any earlier years you can do that.  But you are too late to get a tax refund for 2018 even if you file it because it is past the deadline and any refund you could have received has now been forfeited.

 

As for 2019 or 2020----were you someone else's dependent for those tax years?  If so, the person who could claim you as a dependent is the one who can get the education credits.   If no one could claim you then you can file 2019 and 2020 returns if you use the correct software for each of those years, and mail in the returns.

 

Each tax year has to be filed separately using the forms for the specific tax year.  They cannot be combined in any way--do not even put them in the same envelope when you mail them.  Software for past years is available back to 2018.  Any earlier years can only be prepared on paper forms by hand--and those refunds have been forfeited now.

 

The current online program can only be used for a 2021 return--no other year.  And if you did not file a 2020 return you will have trouble e-filing 2021.  When it asks for your 2020 AGI try using zero.  If zero does not work then you have to print, sign and mail 2021.

 

Each tax year has to be filed separately using the forms for the specific tax year.  They cannot be combined in any way--do not even put them in the same envelope when you mail them.  Software for past years is available back to 2018.  Any earlier years can only be prepared on paper forms by hand--and those refunds have been forfeited now.

 

The current online program can only be used for a 2021 return--no other year.  And if you did not file a 2020 return you will have trouble e-filing 2021.  When it asks for your 2020 AGI try using zero.  If zero does not work then you have to print, sign and mail 2021.

 

 

 

Each tax year has to be filed separately using the forms for the specific tax year.  They cannot be combined in any way--do not even put them in the same envelope when you mail them.  Software for past years is available back to 2018.  Any earlier years can only be prepared on paper forms by hand--and those refunds have been forfeited now.

 

The current online program can only be used for a 2021 return--no other year.  And if you did not file a 2020 return you will have trouble e-filing 2021.  When it asks for your 2020 AGI try using zero.  If zero does not work then you have to print, sign and mail 2021.

 

 

TurboTax has software for 2018 onward.   Software is no longer available from TurboTax for earlier years, nor would it be supported even if you find it on eBay, etc.  Updates are not available.   It is also too late to receive a tax refund for a tax year earlier than 2018---those refunds have been forfeited.   BUT if you owe tax due you still have to pay with penalties and interest.   There might be other software providers that have software for those years, but you will not receive refunds for the returns even if the forms show a refund.

 

 

 

Online preparation and e-filing for 2018 and 2019 and 2020 is permanently closed.

To file a return for a prior tax year

 If you need to prepare a return for 2018, 2019 or 2020 you can purchase and download desktop software to do it, then print, sign,  and mail the return(s)

https://turbotax.intuit.com/personal-taxes/past-years-products/

You may also want to explore purchasing the software from various retailers such as Amazon, Costco, Best Buy, Walmart, Sam’s, etc.

 

Remember to prepare your state return as well—if you live in a state that has a state income tax.

 

https://ttlc.intuit.com/community/state-taxes/help/how-do-i-contact-my-state-department-of-revenue/0... 

 

When you mail a tax return, you need to attach any documents showing tax withheld, such as your W-2’s or any 1099’s.  Use a mailing service that will track it, such as UPS or certified mail so you will know the IRS/state received the return.

Federal and state returns must be in separate envelopes and they are mailed to different addresses.  Read the mailing instructions that print with your tax return carefully so you mail them to the right addresses.

 

Note:  The desktop software you need to prepare the prior year return must be installed/downloaded to a full PC or Mac.  It cannot be used on a mobile device.

**Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to offer the most correct information possible. The poster disclaims any legal responsibility for the accuracy of the information that is contained in this post.**
Hal_Al
Level 15

2021 is my first year filling federal taxes. I have been a full time student since 2018. How do I apply for Education Credits for years 18-20 on my 2021 Tax return?

Most students are not eligible for the education credit.  A full time unmarried student, under age 24, even if you don't qualify as a dependent, is only eligible for the refundable portion (up to $1000) of the American Opportunity Credit (AOC) if he supports himself by working. You cannot be supporting yourself on parental support, 529 plans or student loans & grants. You usually must have actually paid tuition, not had it paid by scholarships & grants.  It is usually best if the parent claims that credit.  Reference: Line 7 instructions for form 8863. https://www.irs.gov/instructions/i8863

You cannot claim a credit if you are, or can be, claimed as a dependent by someone else. There is a 4 times limit for claiming the AOC. Any times  your parents claimed the AOC while you were their dependent count against your 4 times. 

 

More on AOC:

https://www.irs.gov/Individuals/AOTC

 

2021 is my first year filling federal taxes. I have been a full time student since 2018. How do I apply for Education Credits for years 18-20 on my 2021 Tax return?

a few small suggested additions to the advise...could save you a lot of time.

 

first, look at Form 1098-T for each year.  If Box 5 exceeds Box 1, there is no educational credit to be had.

 

2nd, yes, the person who DID claim you is the only person who can otherwise claim the credits (if Box 1 exceeds Box 5 on Form 1098-T),  but if no one claimed  you, you can still claim the credits (again if Box 1 exceeds Box 5).  But it is unlikely it'll gain you much. 

 

Part of the educational credit is a "refundable credit"; you are NOT eligible for this portion of the credit if a) you are under 24 years old and provide less than 50% of your own support, AND b) you are NOT filing Married-Joint AND c) one of your parents is still alive.   This eliminates most college students from benefiting from this aspect of the educational credit on their own tax return if not a dependent on someone else's tax return. 

 

The other part of the credit is a "non-redundable credit". If your adjusted gross income is under $12,550, you have no taxable income and therefore, there there is no benefit from this aspect of the credit. either.

 

@xmasbaby0    the normal dependent rules about CAN someone claim you don't apply to educational credits - think of the family with very high income - parents aren't eligible for AOTC, but the child is eligible for the non-refundable credit to the extent the child has taxable income)

 

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