On August 5, 1997, President Clinton signed the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 into law, which provided education savings through the Hope Scholarship credit and Lifetime Learning credit. The Hope credit went into effect on January 1, 1998 and the Lifetime Learning credit on July 1, 1998.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 modified the Hope credit and renamed it to the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC), allowing the credit to be claimed for four post-secondary undergraduate education years instead of two. The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 has extended the availability of the American opportunity Tax Credit through 2017.
WHO ADMINISTERS THE PROGRAM
The American Opportunity Tax credit and the Lifetime Learning credit are administered by the Internal Revenue Service.
Summary of the Education Tax Credits
The American Opportunity Tax Credit and Lifetime Learning Credit are federal tax credits that offset the costs of higher education by reducing the amount of a filer’s income tax. To qualify for the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) or the Lifetime Learning Credit (LLC), an individual must be an eligible student. This can be either the taxpayer, spouse of the taxpayer, or a dependent on the taxpayer’s tax return who have qualified education expenses. The taxpayer’s modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) must be below the program’s guidelines.
To apply taxpayers must fill out the Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service, 8863 tax form, Education Credits (American Opportunity and Lifetime Learning Credits), and attach it to his/her NYS income tax return.