Can My Child's College Apartment Payment Be Used as a Tax Deduction?

by Anthony L. White

    The Internal Revenue Service provides several tax credits and deductions for families with dependent children who are attending college. These tax benefits primarily cover educated-related expenses, such as tuition, books, and supplies. However, room and board are not covered. This means that parents cannot use their child’s college apartment or dorm payments as a tax deduction.

    Qualified Educational Expenses

    According to IRS guidelines, qualified educational expenses are expenses that are required to attend the eligible educational institution and are only used for obtaining a degree or certification. Qualified educational expenses include tuition and fees that are required to enroll at or attend the institution. You can also deduct course-related expenses, such as books, supplies, and equipment that the entire class is required to have.

    Expenses That Do Not Qualify

    Even though apartment rent or dorm fees are necessary expenses, the IRS does not consider rent as a qualified educational expense because students can use apartments or dorm rooms for their personal use. Other expenses that cannot be deducted or considered as qualified educational expenses include the student’s living expenses, travel, research, and supplies that are not required for every member of the student’s class.

    Educational Tax Benefits

    Although you cannot claim your child’s apartment and dorm rental payments on your tax return, there are educational credits you can claim that can increase your refund or reduce the amount you owe. The IRS currently has three educational credits that you can take if you paid expenses related to your child’s education. These credits include the American Opportunity Credit, the Hope Credit, and the Lifetime Learning Credit. These refundable credits reimburse some qualified tuition and fees you paid for the student to attend college. However, you and your dependent cannot both claim educational expenses during a single tax year. One or the other has to claim the expenses. For you to claim an American Opportunity Credit for your dependent's expenses, you must also claim an exemption for your dependent.The IRS does not allow tax filers to take more than one of these credits for an individual in a single year, so make sure you choose the one that is most beneficial to your tax situation.

    Eligible Deductions

    The IRS does allow you to claim tuition and fee deductions if you paid education-related expenses for your qualifying dependent. Claiming this deduction can reduce your taxable income by up to $4,000, but you cannot take this deduction if you claim educational credits like the American Opportunity Credit. You may also be eligible for a student loan interest deduction if you paid interest on your child’s student loan. IRS guidelines require that the student loan is taken out solely to pay for qualified educational expenses. To learn more about educational credits, deductions, and related expenses, please review IRS Publication 970.

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    About the Author

    Anthony L. White is a journalist, novelist and screenwriter. He graduated from the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in journalism. White, writing as Anthony Lamarr, is author of the Strebor Books novel, "Our First Love." He is also a columnist for Perry Newspapers, Inc.

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