I started my master's degree in 2018 and graduated in 2020. I wasn't claimed as anyone's dependent and I can't be claimed as anyone's dependent. I paid tuition in the years 2018, 2019, and 2020 and received a 1098T for each of these years. I am not eligible for the American Opportunity Tax Credit for the years 2018, 2019, and 2020 because I wasn't in my first four years of my post secondary education in these years.
year 2018 - I paid tuition, received a 1098T, earned no income and didn't file a tax
year 2019 - I paid tuition, received a 1098T, earned no income and didn't file a tax
year 2020 - I paid tuition, received a 1098T, earned some income, filed federal taxes, used my 1098T of 2020, and received Lifetime Learning Credit
I'd like to know if I can make any use of these 1098Ts for my taxes in 2021 and future years? Or is it required for a 1098T issued for a particular year to be used ONLY for the tax returns of that year?
The credit must be claimed in the year the education expenses were incurred. And if you had no tax liability in 2018 and 2019 the credit would not benefit you anyway so there would be no point in amending those returns.
Q. Can I make use of my old 1098-Ts ?
A. No. The only tax breaks available to grad students is a non-refundable credit (Lifetime Learning) and a tuition deduction. So, if you didn't have enough income to have a tax liability, there is nothing to claim by filing (late) tax returns for 2018 and 2019.
On the other hand, if box 5 of the 1098-T was more than box 1, you may have taxable scholarship income that needs to be reported.