Welcome back! A few days ago we discussed the basics of the credits and deductions you can receive for paying tuition for higher education. See The Tax Bleep: Student Edition (Part 1) if you didn’t catch it! Today we are going to fast forward 4 years (or 7 depending on how much fun you’re having) and find out how paying back those student loans can affect your tax return. No one likes the thought of paying back loans until it is fully paid off and the weight is lifted. Looking at a $40,000 loan statement can suck the life out of you when trying to calculate how many years it will take to pay off and how much interest you will end up paying in the process. However, you must start paying them off eventually (6 months after you’ve graduated, to be exact) so it is nice to know that you can earn a tax deduction for all that interest you are paying.
There are a few basic things to know about the student loan interest deduction.
1. Qualified Student Loan: In order to get a student loan interest deduction, your loan must have been taken out solely to pay for school expenses. The loan cannot be a loan from a relative or an employer loan, even if you used those loans only to pay for school. Additionally, the loan must have been incurred for you, your spouse, or your dependent, so pretty much any person you claim on your tax return. If you did pay student loan interest, you may receive a 1098-E.
2. 1098-E: If you paid student loan interest during the year exceeding $600, you will receive Form 1098-E. This form will show you how much interest you paid on your student loan during the calendar year. If you did not pay more than $600 in interest, you may still be able to deduct all or a portion of that interest if you keep track of it on your own. You can do this by looking at your monthly statements to see how much your principal decreased, or you could also call your loan company.
3. Deduction Limits – Single, Head of Household, Qualifying Widow(er): If your filing status is single, head of household, or qualifying widow(er) and your adjusted gross income (AGI) is more than $80,000, you cannot take a student loan interest deduction. If your AGI is less than $65,000, you can deduct all of your student loan interest paid UP TO $2,500. You cannot deduct more than $2,500 in student loan interest. If you made between $65,000 and $80,000, your deduction phases out. Check out the student loan interest worksheet to see how much interest you can deduct!
4. Deduction Limits – Married Filing Jointly: If your status is married filing jointly and your AGI is more than $160,000, you cannot take a student loan interest deduction. If your AGI is less than $130,000, you can deduct all of your student loan interest UP TO $2,500. If your AGI is between $130,000 and $160,000, your deduction phases out. The student loan interest worksheet can help you figure your student loan interest deduction!
5. Miscellaneous: In order to qualify for this deduction, there are a few other stipulations. If any of the following are true, you cannot claim a student loan interest deduction: your status is married filing separately, you are claimed on another person’s return, and you were not legally obligated to pay interest on your loan. The deduction is an “above the line” deduction which means it reduces the amount of taxable income you have.
I know this won’t completely lessen the blow of having to pay off that massive student loan, but it is a start! And when it comes to paying taxes, I want you to save as many of those hard-earned dollars as you possibly can! Follow me on twitter for more of your tax return updates!