So I'm currently a teacher taking graduate courses for my continuing education. I currently pay the amount for the tuition up-front, and my district reimburses me for __% of the total after I have passed the course. However, this is not included on my W-2. I'm not entirely sure what I should enter for the 1098-T form, as it's asking for the total paid to the institution. Do I enter what's on the 1098-T form (how much I originally paid up-front), or what I actually paid (the difference between the tuition total and how much I was reimbursed)? If the former, is there a certain place where I include the amount I was reimbursed?
Yes, there is certain place in the 1098-T entry interview where you are asked about "Employer-provided assistance". When you answer Yes, a box will "open up" for you to enter the Employer-Provided Assistance. Just continue through the interview after you've entered your 1098-T "boxes".
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The first $5250 of employer educational assistance is usually tax free, so it will not show on your W-2. So, it's essentially the same as tax free scholarship and you can not count that part in claiming the tuition credit.
To simplify the entry, you can just enter the reimbursement in box 5 at the 1098-T screen (as an alternate to the correct answer above)
Q. What if the amount reimbursed is greater than the $5250 mark, yet none of it is listed on the W-2? Do I claim the difference?
If that's the case, something may be wrong. I'd start by reviewing your W-2 and comparing it to your year end pay stub. It (the excess over $5250) may not be itemized anywhere, on the W-2, and is simply included in the box 1 amount. Next, I'd question my employer as to why it's not on the W-2.
Next it depends on what you mean by "claim it". No, you can't claim it as tuition paid by you with after tax money, if you know it to be tax free money. Do you declare it as income, because it exceeds $5250? No, assume your employer knows what he's doing. For example, although you can not longer deduct job expenses, like continuing education, your employer can. That is, instead of tuition reimbursement, he's calling it job expenses reimbursement.