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Level 1

Can International students claim American Opportunity or Hope Credit?

Hello all,

 

I am an international student filing taxes this year as a US resident. I am pretty sure I do not qualify for  American Opportunity or Hope Credit, but somehow turbotax keeps showing up and telling me i am qualified and is giving me extra refund. So I would just like to confirm... Can International students claim American Opportunity or Hope Credit? Is there a way I can get rid of this refund in the turbotax free edition? 

 

*edit: I am on a F-1 visa, but I've been in America since 2014 for school and have been considered as a US Resident for tax purposes (according to Sprintax) 

 

Thank you,

Celine 

 

 

1 Best answer

Accepted Solutions
Highlighted
Level 7

Can International students claim American Opportunity or Hope Credit?

As is often the case, the answer is you may possibly qualify.  The sources we'll consult here are IRS publications 970 (Tax Benefits for Education) and 519 (U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens). 

 

Page 12 of pub 970 excludes nonresident aliens, but does not exclude resident aliens.

 

Page 5 of pub 519 states that, as you have noted, after 5 years in the country on a student visa, you qualify as a resident unless you establish that you do not intend to reside permanently in the United States and  you have substantially complied with the requirements of your visa.

If, as I will now assume, you thus do qualify as a resident, the remaining question is whether you otherwise qualify for the AOC based on income and educational status.  For that, we refer to page 11 on pub 970 for the questions you will need to answer affirmatively to be eligible for the credit:

 

Student qualifications. Generally, you can claim the
American opportunity credit for a student only if
all
of the
following four requirements are met:
1. As of the beginning of 2019, the student had not completed the first 4 years of postsecondary education (generally, the freshman through senior years of college), as determined by the eligible educational institution. For this purpose, don't include academic credit awarded solely because of the student's performance on proficiency examinations.
2. Neither the American opportunity credit nor the Hope scholarship credit has been claimed by you or anyone else (see below) for this student for any 4 tax years before 2019. If the American opportunity credit (and Hope scholarship credit) has been claimed for this student for any 3 or fewer tax years before 2019, this requirement is met.
3. For at least one academic period beginning (or treated as beginning) in 2019, the student both:
a. Was enrolled in a program that leads to a degree, certificate, or other recognized educational credential; and
b. Carried at least one-half the normal full-time workload for his or her course of study.

    The standard for what is half of the normal full-time workload is determined by each eligible educational institution. However, the standard may not be lower than any of those established by the U.S. Department of Education under the Higher Education Act of 1965.
   For 2019, treat an academic period beginning in the first 3 months of 2020 as if it began in 2019 if qualified education expenses for the student were paid in 2019 for that academic period. See
Prepaid expenses, later.
4. As of the end of 2019, the student had not been convicted of a federal or state felony for possessing or distributing a controlled substance.

 

In particular if you completed your undergraduate degree prior to 2019, you do not qualify.

View solution in original post

1 Reply
Highlighted
Level 7

Can International students claim American Opportunity or Hope Credit?

As is often the case, the answer is you may possibly qualify.  The sources we'll consult here are IRS publications 970 (Tax Benefits for Education) and 519 (U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens). 

 

Page 12 of pub 970 excludes nonresident aliens, but does not exclude resident aliens.

 

Page 5 of pub 519 states that, as you have noted, after 5 years in the country on a student visa, you qualify as a resident unless you establish that you do not intend to reside permanently in the United States and  you have substantially complied with the requirements of your visa.

If, as I will now assume, you thus do qualify as a resident, the remaining question is whether you otherwise qualify for the AOC based on income and educational status.  For that, we refer to page 11 on pub 970 for the questions you will need to answer affirmatively to be eligible for the credit:

 

Student qualifications. Generally, you can claim the
American opportunity credit for a student only if
all
of the
following four requirements are met:
1. As of the beginning of 2019, the student had not completed the first 4 years of postsecondary education (generally, the freshman through senior years of college), as determined by the eligible educational institution. For this purpose, don't include academic credit awarded solely because of the student's performance on proficiency examinations.
2. Neither the American opportunity credit nor the Hope scholarship credit has been claimed by you or anyone else (see below) for this student for any 4 tax years before 2019. If the American opportunity credit (and Hope scholarship credit) has been claimed for this student for any 3 or fewer tax years before 2019, this requirement is met.
3. For at least one academic period beginning (or treated as beginning) in 2019, the student both:
a. Was enrolled in a program that leads to a degree, certificate, or other recognized educational credential; and
b. Carried at least one-half the normal full-time workload for his or her course of study.

    The standard for what is half of the normal full-time workload is determined by each eligible educational institution. However, the standard may not be lower than any of those established by the U.S. Department of Education under the Higher Education Act of 1965.
   For 2019, treat an academic period beginning in the first 3 months of 2020 as if it began in 2019 if qualified education expenses for the student were paid in 2019 for that academic period. See
Prepaid expenses, later.
4. As of the end of 2019, the student had not been convicted of a federal or state felony for possessing or distributing a controlled substance.

 

In particular if you completed your undergraduate degree prior to 2019, you do not qualify.

View solution in original post