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Your Education and Taxes

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Taxes are a part of everyday life. It's important to know tax benefits you may be eligible for when you file your taxes as well as how taxes may affect your income. For more details specific to your circumstances, consult a tax professional or the IRS.

Robot pointing out the possible tax benefits that are available to those with student loans and in school

Keep reading to learn more about taxes. Know what you're looking for? Click one of the links below to jump ahead.


Education Tax Benefits

Do you know that you might qualify for education tax benefits that can save money on your taxes? Many students don't, but understanding the different benefits can pay off!

Federal Education Deductions

schoolhouseDeductions are benefits that reduce your taxable income, which may also reduce the taxes you owe. If you're a current student or have paid interest on student loans in the last year, you may be eligible for federal education deductions. Visit irs.gov for more information.

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The Tuition and Fees Deduction can potentially reduce your taxable income by up to $4,000.

The Student Loan Interest Deduction can potentially reduce your taxable income by up to $2,500.

Federal Tax Credits

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General Requirements for Federal Tax Credits

checkboxYou must file federal taxes.

checkboxYour income must not exceed a maximum amount set each year by the IRS.

checkboxYou must have paid qualified education expenses during the tax year, for yourself or for a dependent. Generally, you will only qualify for these credits if you are still in school or have graduated within the past year.

checkboxYou can claim only one credit per student in the same year. Families with more than one dependent student can claim a different credit for each student. The same is true for married couples with both spouses in school.

A tax credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction of the amount of federal taxes you owe. Although the credits available differ in amount and eligibility, they share one feature: they directly reduce the amount of taxes you pay. For more information about these credits and other tax benefits available to students, visit the Federal Student Aid website.

Evaluating Tax Credits

Robot with a clipboard checking off requirements for tax creditsThe amount of a credit is based on qualifying education expenses paid during the year. The expenses are summarized by schools on Form 1098-T and mailed to you sometime in January.

Other Resources

IRS Publication 970 is a comprehensive explanation of available federal education tax benefits. Get it at irs.gov or call (800) 829-3676 to order it by mail.

Taxsites.com helps you find tax information for your state, including any state tax benefits you may qualify for.

Your Company Benefits Administrator. You may be eligible to receive tax-free tuition assistance from your employer. Contact your company benefits administrator for more information.


Taxes and Your Paycheck

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Common tax deductions you may see taken out of your paycheck include:

Earnings $XXXX.xx
Taxes and Deductions
FICA $XX.xx
Federal Tax $XX.xx
State & Local Tax $XX.xx
Net Pay $XXXX.xx

FICA or the Federal Insurance Contribution Tax (this may also be listed as Social Security, Medicare, or abbreviated versions of either of those). This deduction is used to fund the federal Social Security and Medicare programs.

Federal Tax (may appear as FT or FWT). This amount is held by the federal government to pay your federal taxes. If you withhold too much you receive a refund when you do your taxes. Withhold too little, and you have to send a payment.

State & Local Tax (may be abbreviated as St Tax, ST, or SWT). This amount depends on your W-4 and the location of your home and work.


Other Deductions

There are other deductions from your paycheck that can affect your taxes, including contributions made to retirement accounts and monthly insurance premiums. These deductions reduce your taxable income and help you prepare financially for the future.

Depending on your job, you may not have taxes taken out of your paycheck automatically. Many waiters, tutors, and independent contractors may be required to estimate their own withholding quarterly. The IRS Withholding Calculator can help estimate how much you should set aside.

Filing Your Taxes

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There are numerous tax forms you may need to file your taxes.

Income Tax Forms

A W-2 is the income tax form your employer completes to report your wages and withholdings to the IRS; they provide it to you by the end of January. You need this form to complete your tax return.

Tax Return Forms

When you file your tax return (and if you earned more than $400 in a year, you are required to), you will most likely use one of the following forms. Some of these forms are available for free at irs.gov, and others are provided to you by financial institutions or your school.

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1040, or long form is a form that can be used by any U.S. resident.

This form can be found at irs.gov.

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1040A, or short form is used by people with uncomplicated tax situations (no itemized deductions, capital gain, or loss).

This form can be found at irs.gov.

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1040EZ, the easy form is the most simple, and is for single and joint filers with no dependents.

This form can be found at irs.gov.

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1098 — This is the statement of interest you paid on your mortgage in a year. This form is used to deduct that interest from your taxes.

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1098-T — Your school usually makes this available to you in January if you paid education expenses the previous year.

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1098-E — This form shows the interest you paid on your student loans in the previous year. Your lender or servicer usually makes this available to you in January. If you have loans serviced by Great Lakes, check out Your 1098-E and Your Student Loan Tax Information.

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1099-INT — This form is sent to you if you have taxable interest income.

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