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I got a 1098-T for tuition that my parents pay, do I need to file the 1098-T?

2 Replies
Level 15

I got a 1098-T for tuition that my parents pay, do I need to file the 1098-T?

If you are a dependent only your parents can claim education credit if otherwise qualified so they should use the information on that form. But if you had scholarship income greater than education expenses you would report the difference as income on your return 

Level 15

I got a 1098-T for tuition that my parents pay, do I need to file the 1098-T?

Q.  Do I need to file the 1098-T?

A. Simple answer: NO.  The 1098-T is only an informational document. The numbers on it are not required to be entered onto your tax return. 


But,  receipt of a 1098-T frequently means you (or your parents) are either eligible for a tuition credit or deduction or possibly you have taxable scholarship income.  You claim the tuition credit, or report scholarship income, based on your own financial records, not the 1098-T. 


It actually doesn't matter who paid the tuition.   If your parents claim you as a dependent, then they claim the tuition credit and enter the 1098-T on their return, to do so*.  There's even a loop hole available for the parents to claim the credit, if the student is on scholarship**.


 If box 1 of the 1098-T is more than box 5, you do not have taxable scholarship to report on your return. 


*If you are not claimed as a dependent, there are some restrictions on you being able to claim a credit. A student 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. 



**There is a tax “loop hole” available. The student reports all his scholarship, up to the amount needed to claim the American Opportunity Credit (AOC), as income on his return. That way, the parents  (or himself, if he is not a dependent) can claim the tuition credit on their return. They can do this because that much tuition was no longer paid by "tax free" scholarship.  You cannot do this if the school’s billing statement specifically shows the scholarships being applied to tuition or if the conditions of the grant are that it be used to pay for qualified expenses.

Using an example: Student has $10,000 in box 5 of the 1098-T and $8000 in box 1. At first glance he/she has $2000 of taxable income and nobody can claim the American opportunity credit. But if she reports $6000 as income on her return, the parents can claim $4000 of qualified expenses on their return.

Books and computers are also qualifying expenses for the AOC. So, extending the example, the student had another $1000 in expenses for those course materials, paid out of pocket, she would only need to report $5000 of taxable scholarship income, instead of $6000.



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