Q. I’m going back to school to improve certain job skills. Can I claim the education tax credit for myself? M.T., Buffalo, N.Y.
A. Yes. The tax benefits for either education credit—the revamped American Opportunity Tax credit (formerly the Hope credit) and the Lifetime Learning credit—aren’t limited to college education expenses paid by parents. A credit is available for qualified amounts spent for yourself, your spouse or someone claimed as a dependent on your tax return.
With the American Opportunity Tax credit, you can claim a maximum $2,500 credit in 2009 (up from $1,800 for 2008) for any of the first four years of a college degree program. Previously, the credit applied only to the first two years of study.
Tip: The new credit begins to phase out at a modified AGI of $80,000 for single filers and $160,000 for joint filers.