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dmgallardo29
Level 2

Am I able to claim the American Opportunity Tax Credit if I had gone to school for more than 4 years, but never have claimed the AOTC before?

Some back story: I've been going to  school for a while--6 in community college on & off, and 2-3 yrs in a university.  I just recently obtained my Bachelors in June of 2020.

 

Here's the thing, I have never filed taxes because I have been considered a non-filer all these years.

However, even though I am still considered a non-filer, I was  filing my taxes for 2020 and noticed that I was eligible for the American Opportunity Tax Credit that I was never aware of, so I continued on with the filing without claiming it because I didn't know if I was able to. 

 

Fast forward to now: I'm amending my tax return again for several reasons, and I was wondering , is it still possible to claim it somehow even though I have never claimed this credit throughout all these years?

 

One person responded to a similar question in which he said that I was able to claim it for 2020 assuming I was half time or more, or not have claimed in the past.  And that I am still able to amend the 2018/2019 tax returns to claim the previous years.

 

I just get confused and assume I'm unable too because  it asks how many years of college have I completed since Jan 2020, and clearly it's been more than 4 years. When I choose that option--4yrs (5th yr senior) , I'm unable to claim the educational credit. But if I were to choose the option before--3yrs (senior) I am able too. 

 

So am I able to claim this credit in my amended tax return , at least for 2020 or not? If so, do I choose the 3yrs (senior) option in order to get the credit?

 

Thank you. 

 

 

1 Best answer

Accepted Solutions
Opus 17
Level 15

Am I able to claim the American Opportunity Tax Credit if I had gone to school for more than 4 years, but never have claimed the AOTC before?

You are eligible for the first 4 years of post-secondary education, if you were enrolled at least half-time.  As far as whether you are eligible as a 5th year senior, the IRS has this to say:

 

A student has completed the first 4 years of postsecondary education if the institution at which the student is enrolled awards the student 4 years of academic credit at that institution for coursework completed by the student before 2020. This student generally wouldn't be an eligible student for purposes of the American opportunity credit.

 

If you were enrolled more than half-time for any 4 years of the 9 year history you talk about, and you got credit, then you aren't eligible any longer.  If you were enrolled half-time or less, those years don't count against you for the AOTC.  

 

Potentially, if you were enrolled more than half-time in 5 different years but didn't get full credit, you might be eligible since you never claimed it before, but I would want a second opinion on this.

 

Yes, you could also amend your 2018 and 2019 returns if you are eligible.  Whether you get any money depends on the factors @Hal_Al discusses.  You generally have to have income from working and owe income taxes, or be age 24 or older to get any part of the credit.

 

Lastly, if you did not file a 2020 tax return, and you can't be claimed as a dependent by someone else, you may be eligible for a recovery rebate (stimulus) on your tax return, separate from the AOTC.  If you already got  your stimulus checks, you won't get extra by filing. 

*Answers are correct to the best of my ability at the time of posting but do not constitute legal or tax advice.*

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5 Replies
Bsch4477
Level 15

Am I able to claim the American Opportunity Tax Credit if I had gone to school for more than 4 years, but never have claimed the AOTC before?

The credit has a refundable and non refundable portion. If you are a non filer you must not have a tax liability so the non refundable portion wouldn’t help you. And if you have a live parent and do not have earned income greater than half of your support you can’t get the refundable portion either. 

Hal_Al
Level 15

Am I able to claim the American Opportunity Tax Credit if I had gone to school for more than 4 years, but never have claimed the AOTC before?

Some issues:

  • Your age; you must be over 23
  • Have you completed "4 years of post secondary education"
  • Your dependent status

There's a new urban myth among college students that says they can get a $1000 from the government just for filing a tax form. For most of them, they simply aren't eligible. A full time unmarried student, under age 24, even if you don't qualify as a dependent, is only eligible for the refundable portion of the American Opportunity Credit 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. 

 

You cannot claim a credit if you are, or can be, claimed as a dependent by someone else (there's an exception, for a non-refundable credit, that doesn't appear to apply to you)

 

Despite the fact that you have  been going to college, for more than fours years, you generally qualify for the American Opportunity Tax Credit, if you have not received enough credits to get a bachelor's degree. That is you have not completed 4 years of college.

xmasbaby0
Level 15

Am I able to claim the American Opportunity Tax Credit if I had gone to school for more than 4 years, but never have claimed the AOTC before?

@dmgallardo29 I noticed that you have two threads in the forum---this one and one in which you are asking about getting the CA stimulus.   In both threads you say you have been a "non -filer" but you have not offered any details beyond that.   We could probably be more helpful if you would clarify your situation.   Are you/have you been someone else's dependent?   How old are you?   What income/means of support do you have?    Did you already file a 2020 federal tax return?   You mentioned that you are now amending your 2020 return---so please explain what you did---and did you prepare any sort of CA return when you prepared the federal return?

 

 

Your other thread:

https://ttlc.intuit.com/community/state-taxes/discussion/is-there-a-way-to-get-the-california-stimul...

**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.**
Opus 17
Level 15

Am I able to claim the American Opportunity Tax Credit if I had gone to school for more than 4 years, but never have claimed the AOTC before?

You are eligible for the first 4 years of post-secondary education, if you were enrolled at least half-time.  As far as whether you are eligible as a 5th year senior, the IRS has this to say:

 

A student has completed the first 4 years of postsecondary education if the institution at which the student is enrolled awards the student 4 years of academic credit at that institution for coursework completed by the student before 2020. This student generally wouldn't be an eligible student for purposes of the American opportunity credit.

 

If you were enrolled more than half-time for any 4 years of the 9 year history you talk about, and you got credit, then you aren't eligible any longer.  If you were enrolled half-time or less, those years don't count against you for the AOTC.  

 

Potentially, if you were enrolled more than half-time in 5 different years but didn't get full credit, you might be eligible since you never claimed it before, but I would want a second opinion on this.

 

Yes, you could also amend your 2018 and 2019 returns if you are eligible.  Whether you get any money depends on the factors @Hal_Al discusses.  You generally have to have income from working and owe income taxes, or be age 24 or older to get any part of the credit.

 

Lastly, if you did not file a 2020 tax return, and you can't be claimed as a dependent by someone else, you may be eligible for a recovery rebate (stimulus) on your tax return, separate from the AOTC.  If you already got  your stimulus checks, you won't get extra by filing. 

*Answers are correct to the best of my ability at the time of posting but do not constitute legal or tax advice.*
AmeliesUncle
Level 13

Am I able to claim the American Opportunity Tax Credit if I had gone to school for more than 4 years, but never have claimed the AOTC before?


@Opus 17 wrote:

You are eligible for the first 4 years of post-secondary education, if you were enrolled at least half-time.  As far as whether you are eligible as a 5th year senior, the IRS has this to say:

 

A student has completed the first 4 years of postsecondary education if the institution at which the student is enrolled awards the student 4 years of academic credit at that institution for coursework completed by the student before 2020. This student generally wouldn't be an eligible student for purposes of the American opportunity credit.

 

If you were enrolled more than half-time for any 4 years of the 9 year history you talk about, and you got credit, then you aren't eligible any longer.

 

I disagree.  You are mixing up two different rules.

 

The citation you posted is in regards to being a pre-graduate, which is one rule.

 

The other rule is that you can claim it 4 times, but it does NOT need to be the "first" 4 qualifying years.  It can be any 4 years that you otherwise meet the requirements.

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