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William Perez

Tax Deduction for Private School - Questions from Readers

By March 21, 2005

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"Dear Tax Guide,
"We sent our daughter to a private elementary school Is there anyway the tution we paid is tax deductible?"

Dear Reader,

The short answer to your question is, "No." Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. But here's a little more information, just so you know.

Education Expenses are tax-deductible, but only for college tuition and fees. This would include community colleges, universities, trade or vocational schools, and other accredited education programs following high school. There are various tax breaks for education expenses, such as the tuition and fees deduction and the Lifetime Learning and Hope tax credits. But these tax breaks are not available for elementary and high school tuition.

Charitible Contributions are tax-deductible if you itemize your deductions on Schedule A. Charitable contributions are cash you gave to churchs, nonprofits, and other bona fide charities without getting anything in return. If you did get something in return, you must decrease the value of your gift by the value of the item or service received. For example, people often buy tickets to a charity ball, concert, or other event. If you gave $100 for a ticket to an event worth $25, then the real value of your donation is $75, not the full $100. You received something in exchange for your donation. You paid tuition, and in exchange your daughter received an education. This would not meet the definition of a charitable donation, and so you cannot deduct this on your Schedule A. This particular situation is mentioned by the IRS in Publication 526, in the section concerning Charitable Contributions From Which You Benefit.

I hope this clarifies matters for you.

Best wishes this filing season,

William Perez

August 17, 2006 at 2:13 pm
(1) Holly says:

What if I were to give the private school tuition to a student (not related to me) with special needs? Would that be tax deductable?

August 17, 2006 at 2:21 pm
(2) William Perez says:

No. Gifts to specific individuals are never tax deductible.

May 24, 2011 at 8:40 am
(3) Mark says:

however, you do not pay taxes on gifts under $13k annually to each person you give a gift to. In other words, you can give up to $13k in a year to ANYONE (including your kids or non-relatives) and no one has to pay taxes.

September 6, 2006 at 1:07 pm
(4) Jalon says:

Are there any investment options that WOULD be tax free for use in paying for private school? Thanks.

November 2, 2006 at 3:41 pm
(5) Jeremy Stein says:

You can bet that the government will avoid allowing tax deductions for private school tuition since they are in direct competition with the public schools. Imagine the uproar if there was a tax break for taking your kids out of public schools!

September 30, 2011 at 9:19 am
(6) ktb99 says:

in Georgia, the GOAL scholarship program lets private schools skim up to $50,000,000 a year off the State’s annual tax revenue.

March 5, 2007 at 9:58 am
(7) Kevin Clark says:

Is it possible to deduct on taxes for tithing if it relates to private school? My daughter is going to a private catholic school next year that is paid for via tithing.

April 5, 2007 at 12:44 pm
(8) Mo says:

Four state within the union do permit private school tax deductions. For specifics see: http://www.cga.ct.gov/2006/rpt/2006-R-0754.htm

May 11, 2007 at 1:55 pm
(9) Donna says:

I heard through our Christian schools that they were considering a bill that you can get a credit for approx. $4,000 per year for private education. It was called the Teach Act of (year?). Do you know anything about it?
Thank you.

February 24, 2008 at 9:00 pm
(10) Jessica says:

What about schools that are on the “needs improvement” list? I know that doesn’t sound like a valid reason to the government, but it should be revisited. Thanks for any information.

March 17, 2008 at 1:22 pm
(11) Jim says:

Can I deduct the entire amount of my tuition as a charitable contribution and claim as a benefit of that contribution the cost my municipality would charge me for a public education?

March 17, 2008 at 2:44 pm
(12) taxes says:

Jim, no you cannot. Tuition for private elementary and secondary schools are not eligible for any tax deduction whatsoever.

September 6, 2011 at 11:40 am
(13) Robyn says:

What if SOMEONE ELSE sponsors your child…..I’ve had people tell me that you can sponsor someone else’s child and it is tax deductible.

September 6, 2011 at 5:21 pm
(14) William Perez says:

Robyn, gifts to a charity that are designated as being for the benefit of a specific individual are not tax-deductible, even if the funds are given directly to a qualfying 501(c)(3) organization. In Publication 526, the IRS states, “Contributions to individuals who are needy or worthy. This includes contributions to a qualified organization if you indicate that your contribution is for a specific person. But you can deduct a contribution that you give to a qualified organization that in turn helps needy or worthy individuals if you do not indicate that your contribution is for a specific person.”

May 28, 2008 at 4:05 pm
(15) David says:

If the student is disabled and attending private school because the public system cannot provided, is there a deduction?

June 6, 2008 at 1:29 pm
(16) William says:

David, it may be possible to deduct a portion of the private school tuition as a medical expense. The relevant law here is Treasury Regulations section 1.213-1 (e)(1)(v)(a). [Here’s a link to the full text of this section.)

Here’s the relevant part of the law:

While ordinary education is not medical care, the cost of medical care includes the cost of attending a special school for a mentally or physically handicapped individual, if his condition is such that the resources of the institution for alleviating such mental or physical handicap are a principal reason for his presence there. In such a case, the cost of attending such a special school will include the cost of meals and lodging, if supplied, and the cost of ordinary education furnished which is incidental to the special services furnished by the school. Thus, the cost of medical care includes the cost of attending a special school designed to compensate for or overcome a physical handicap, in order to qualify the individual for future normal education or for normal living, such as a school for the teaching of braille or lip reading. Similarly, the cost of care and supervision, or of treatment and training, of a mentally retarded or physically handicapped individual at an institution is within the meaning of the term medical care.

The IRS explains this deduction in Publication 502 in the section on special education.

July 10, 2008 at 9:08 am
(17) kelly says:

what if we pay tuition for an employee’s children as part of her comp? Is this simply reported on W2 or can we deduct as a donation to the school?

July 10, 2008 at 10:36 pm
(18) William says:

Kelly, the payment would be part of the employee’s taxable wages. The corporation would not be able to deduct the expense as a charitable contribution. On the other hand, if the corporation were to donate equipment or money to the school (not allocated to a specific student), then it would be able to take a charitable deduction.

August 1, 2008 at 1:49 pm
(19) Lisa says:

I have two of my children enrolled in private schools here in Arizona. There is several non profit organizations that helps me keep my children in private school by using the private school tax credit. One of the organizations I used is Arizona Scholarship Fund. Through them people I know can donate and recommend my children to be a recipient of those funds. They can donate up to $1000.00 (married filling joint returns), or $500.00 (single). The amount donated will be a dollar for dollar tax credit and it is used to reduce the state liability. After the money is donated to Arizona Scholarship Fund, they send those funds to cover my children’s tuition. I was very thankful to find this organization.

More information can be found at http://www.azscholarships.org

December 25, 2008 at 3:39 pm
(20) Mike says:

What states are the ones that let a person who puts there kids in a christian school, to use that as a tax right off?

January 13, 2009 at 2:04 pm
(21) taxes says:

Mike, see this link to information from the National Conference of State Legislatures:
School Choice Tax Credits and Deductions by State

February 9, 2009 at 12:27 pm
(22) Richard says:

My company pays a part of my children’s tuition to send them to a private school that they are loosely affiliated with, then deducts the taxes from my payroll. Does this affect the deductability of the tuition?

February 12, 2009 at 10:16 pm
(23) Jazmine says:

Hi, was just wondering how reliable is tax credit? Im a freshman this year and was wanting to go to a expensive bording christan school in Scottsdale Arizona for my sophmore year. But i can only go if i get like 13 people to do tax credit for me. Would that work if i really tried?

February 24, 2009 at 12:23 pm
(24) Cherryl says:

I have my son who is enrolled in a private school where daycare services are also provided. It is paid in his total tuition. Can I get part of his tuition tax deducted as this is partial daycare? If so, what documentation would I need?

April 11, 2009 at 6:47 am
(25) David says:

Hi, my daughter attends Naples High School which is a Department of Defense School located in Naples, Italy. As a retired U.S. military citizen I am required to pay tution for her to attend this school. It is paid to the Department of Treasury. The cost is over 22,000 dollars for the year. Is there a tax deduction for this type of expense.

April 15, 2009 at 10:19 pm
(26) amk says:

How come Obama’s claimed 47+ K for their daughters elementary school this year?

April 16, 2009 at 6:24 am
(27) Matthew says:

If the answer is NO, how is it that President Obama deducted $50,000.00 in tution for his daughters elementary school education. I would love to hear the answer to this because I need the same deduction.

April 16, 2009 at 11:58 am
(28) Ron says:

I’ll be very interested in this answer as well. As far as I know, elementary school tuition is not deductible.

May 13, 2009 at 12:16 pm
(29) denise says:

The private school my daughter attends has 2 payment rates. One is for students who attend one of the 6 Lutheran Churches in the ares and a higher on for the students that do not atten these churches. Can I deduct the difference between the two – we belong to a Baptist church not listed as one of the 6 churches? Thanks.

May 13, 2009 at 7:56 pm
(30) William Perez says:

Obama took a deduction for the school tuition on his Illinois state tax return. A deduction or credit for private school tuition is found only in some states. There is no federal deduction or credit available for elementary and high school tuition.

May 13, 2009 at 7:58 pm
(31) William Perez says:

Denise, no. You cannot take a charity deduction if you receive goods or services worth equal value in exchange for your payment or donation.

June 1, 2009 at 12:51 pm
(32) Jennifer says:

What if the school can determine what portion of your tuition is fully allocable to scholarship funds (granted on financial need only)? Can this be required as part of your tuition and deducted by those who paid it? Your child is not receiving a benefit.

June 17, 2009 at 6:02 pm
(33) shawna says:

I just enrolled my daughter in private pre-k. Public pre-k is not an option because my husband and I make too much money and, as it was explained to my by the school board, the public pre-k program is only available to low income families and children who are, to put it bluntly, not all that smart. So inorder for my child to go to pre-k, I have to send her to a private school. Would her tuition be tax deductable since public pre-k is not available to me?

October 11, 2010 at 11:11 am
(34) Brenda says:

I may be too late to help you, but private school tuition for preschool can be used toward the $3000 child daycare credit for a child under kindergarten. Once the child is 5 and kindergarten age, this no longer applies.

June 17, 2009 at 9:44 pm
(35) taxes says:

Shawna, private school is not deductible for federal tax purposes — unless it’s for postsecondary education. Various states, however, provide a deduction or tax credit for private elementary and secondary education. So check with your state tax agency.

June 19, 2009 at 1:32 am
(36) William Perez says:

Jennifer, there’s only two instances I can think of when private elementary or secondary tuition might possibly be deductible: if it’s special education and part of the costs are directly related to special medical care provided, or if it’s an after-school type program, and the costs are deducted for the dependent care credit. Otherwise, no, private elementary and secondary school are not deductible for federal purposes, although some states do provide a credit or deduction for this.

July 20, 2009 at 12:39 pm
(37) Mulham says:

If a private school is looking to institute a new policy where parents can pay a fee to “hold a space” for a child, would this fee be tax deductible? This fee would be nonrefundable, and would not be applied for any tuition purposes.

Example: Parents have a 2 year old child who they want to enroll in private elementary upon the commencement of kindergarden (5 yrs old). If the parents pay $2,500 (figure made up by me) to reserve a spot for their child when he turns 5, would this be tax deductible? This $2,500 would not be used for tuition purposes and would not be refundable.

My initial thinking is that the amount would not be tax deductible, since it is related to a future service. But I am also aware that if it is worded properly, a case could be made to make this tax deductible.

If you can provide a quick response, it would greatly be appreciated. On a side note, this is for a private school in Fairfax, Virginia. Not sure if the State might have special rules.

July 20, 2009 at 3:22 pm
(38) William Perez says:

Mulham, one of the basic rules for the charity deduction is that you are giving something to the charity without receiving anything is return. If you get something in exchange for your donation, you have to reduce your deduction by the value of the received property. So in your case, you are getting a reserved spot in the school in exchange for your payment.

July 24, 2009 at 1:48 am
(39) Mike says:

I notice the IRS allows individuals and couples to make gifts which I understand reduces their tax burden. The limit for couples is $26,000 per year (after Jan. 1, 2009) before they must pay the gift tax. Let us assume the cost of a private school is $15,000. If the school’s parents “gift” this same amount of money to their children or even to another family’s children, they would save in cash the amount of tax they normally would have to pay to the IRS on that $15,000. If they are in, for example, the 28% tax bracket, that represents a tax savings of $4,200 they would normally have to pay on that same amount of income. Saving $4,200 effectively reduces each parent’s tuition burden, in our example to $11,800 ($15,000-$4,200). The school still receives the same amount of money per year. Is there any prohibition for every set of parents “gifting” their tuition money to eachother so that everyone can save money on their income tax and thereby effectively reduce their private school tuition costs? Is there a flaw in this logic?

July 24, 2009 at 4:40 pm
(40) William Perez says:

Mike, the only problem with that strategy is you cannot take a tax deduct for gifts to individual people. You can only deduct gifts to charitable organizations. As for the gift tax rules, parents can give an unlimited amount if it’s for their child’s education or medical expenses.

May 24, 2011 at 8:56 am
(41) Mark says:

This response is incorrect. The gift can be to anyone. Copied from the IRS website:

Annual exclusion. A separate annual exclusion applies to each person to whom you make a gift. The gift tax annual exclusion is subject to cost-of-living increases.

Gift Tax Annual Exclusion
Year(s) Annual Exclusion
1998 – 2001 $10,000
2002 – 2005 $11,000
2006 – 2008 $12,000
2009 $13,000

For 2009, you generally can give a gift valued at up to $13,000 each, to any number of people, and none of the gifts will be taxable.

However, gifts of future interests cannot be excluded under an annual exclusion provision. A gift of a future interest is a gift that is limited so that its use, possession, or enjoyment will begin at some point in the future.

If you are married, both you and your spouse can separately give gifts valued at up to $13,000 to the same person in 2009 without making a taxable gift. If one of you gives more than the $13,000 exclusion to a person in 2009, see Gift Splitting, later.

Example 1. In 2009, you give your niece a cash gift of $8,000. It is your only gift to her this year. The gift is not a taxable gift because it is not more than the $13,000 annual exclusion.

Example 2. You pay the $15,000 college tuition of your friend directly to his college. Because the payment qualifies for the educational exclusion, the gift is not a taxable gift.

Example 3. In 2009, you give $25,000 to your 25-year-old daughter. The first $13,000 of your gift is not subject to the gift tax because of the annual exclusion. The remaining $12,000 is a taxable gift. As explained later under Applying the Unified Credit to Gift Tax, you may not have to pay the gift tax on the remaining $12,000. However, you do have to file a gift tax return.

More information. See Form 709 and its instructions for more information about taxable gifts.

July 29, 2009 at 3:37 pm
(42) Billie says:

We live in a small town and I teach in the public school district 30 miles away and am not able to leave my child at school in that town due to different school hours and lack of child care. If I have to bring my elementary school age child with me to the city is there any exemptions for putting him in a private school in the city where I teach rather than the public school? Any thing that would get any type tax deduction. Some type of hardship qualification like the one for drivers license, for example.

August 18, 2009 at 10:43 am
(43) Lin says:

My question is similar to #20 Cherryl’s:

My 4-yr old son attends Pre-K in a private school, i.e. he is there for daycare also. Can I still deduct the schoool fees as with daycare expenses when I file my taxes?

August 29, 2009 at 11:53 am
(44) Kelly says:

Hi –
Belive it or not, my daughers Private school has additional fees not covered under the tuition including:
Child care fees $200 (after care)
Student Activity fee $125
Monthly payment fees $200 (yes, I have to pay a fee to pay monthly)
Parent Guild fee – $125
Capital Campaign – $1000

Are any of these expenses deductible? Thanks!

September 15, 2009 at 9:56 am
(45) JE says:

My daughter is still in high school (i.e…has no diploma or GED yet), but is taking classes at a local university as well. Can I take a tax deduction for that tuition?

November 5, 2009 at 12:56 pm
(46) Ki says:

My daughter attends public middle school, but the school has gone to mandatory school uniforms. Uniforms are not a valid reason for transfer, can I deduct the cost of the uniforms?

January 8, 2010 at 7:17 pm
(47) Kristina says:

Obama wasn’t my choice either, but let’s at least get the facts straight about his tax return: he deducted $500 on his Illinois state return, the maximum amount allowed per family. The whole tax return is posted online if you look for it. The 47K is what he paid for the school, NOT what he was able to deduct. He did not deduct anything for private school on the federal return, of course.

January 17, 2010 at 10:46 pm
(48) kelly says:

Can I take an write off an application fee I made for an international, private culinary school?

January 18, 2010 at 4:03 pm
(49) William Perez says:

Fees incurred for applying to schools are not tax-deductible. Rather, the tuition may be tax deductible or give rise to a tax credit.

February 1, 2010 at 10:18 am
(50) Angry Tax Payer says:

For the question back in August, The $200 for after school care is tax deductible because in theory that goes to caregivers and no benefit is received other than letting you work. Which is how the law is written. The $125 may be tax deductible only if it is part of the after school care. You may be able to tell the school to bill you for $325 after school care and then all would be deductible.
For the more recent question, The application is non-deductible, but the tuition is.

February 1, 2010 at 10:24 am
(51) Angry Tax Payer says:

Now to my question. If I make donations to my daughre’s private school in either money or say an old computer, would it be deductible? What about the “volunteer” time, like taking a day or half a day vacation to “volunteer” in school activities during the week? What about volunteer work during the weekend?

February 7, 2010 at 2:53 pm
(52) tina says:

I heard preschool and kindergarden are deductable, is this true? My state just changed the date for Kindergarden this year and my child miss the cut off by 10 days, so I had to send her to private school or she would be a year behind when the military tranfers my husband. If I didnt send her to private K she would have been in daycare all year. I live in NC

March 8, 2010 at 9:45 pm
(53) Chris says:

Tennis: My daughter plays tennis at a high level. Travels to play tournaments, etc. Could my company make a sponsorship deal with her where the company pays her school tuition in exchange for her wearing the company promotional gear, and then deduct the tuition?

March 21, 2010 at 9:35 pm
(54) mlynnsf says:

If my son takes college classes while he is in high school, would this be an education expense deduction?

April 1, 2010 at 12:38 am
(55) Willie says:

My daughter attends a private parochial school. We pay an extra amount monthly for her to stay afterschool until we get off of work. Is this extra amount deductible on our federal return? Also, this school does not operate during the summer so we pay to send our daughter to summer school at another nearby parochial school. At this school we pay two different amounts: one for classes and another for after school care. Is any part of these summer payments deductible? Thank you for the help.

April 6, 2010 at 4:58 am
(56) Tim says:

I work outside the U.S. as a foreign service officer with the Dept. of State. My kid’s are starting elementary at a private school in the U.A.E. There is no other option for schooling. Is there a way to receive some relief as the tuition is very expensive.

April 10, 2010 at 2:28 pm
(57) Jo says:

Thanks for this great resource, William.

My child attends a public charter high school that imposes various fees – for field trip and activity fees, lab fees, materials fees, as well as a school uniform. I don’t believe we’d have these additional expenses if our child went to the “regular” public high school. So can we deduct these expenses as a charitable donation, since we are in effect subsidizing the school by this same amount?

August 26, 2010 at 6:42 pm
(58) Colleen says:

In the states of Illinois and Iowa there is a tax break for tuition paid to a priviate school for grades K-12. On an Illinois State Tax Return you can get up to $500 back and on Iowa you can get 25% of the tuition paid, up to $250 per child.

Home school expenses also qualify – only on curriculum items, no consumables.

I’m sure it’s possible for other states to have tax breaks for private and home school as well.

August 28, 2010 at 4:31 pm
(59) Geoffrey Borne says:

Actually the answer is YES (depending on the state in which you live). The state of Illinois offers an income tax credit for private school (K-12) tuition up to $500. It may soon be raised to more like $5000. Some other states have similar laws.

There is a growing movement in the country to use tax credits like this to restore educational freedom to the nation.

October 8, 2010 at 11:53 am
(60) Bill says:

I would like to help pay a friend’s tuition for their daughter at a Christian school; we’ve donated generically to the school and I know these are tax deductible; our own children’s tuition is not tax deductible, but wondering if writing a check directly to the school and asking it be put on the friend’s account allow it to be tax deductible. Thoughts?

October 8, 2010 at 12:54 pm
(61) William Perez says:

It would not be tax deductible, Bill. Donations of money given to individual people — or in this case paying an expense on their behalf — does not qualify as a charity deduction.

February 17, 2011 at 5:41 am
(62) Tom says:

I own a small and would like to provide a scholarship/grant for the children of an employee to attend high school. Is this possible and are there tax implications for the business or employee?

October 26, 2010 at 2:55 pm
(63) Jana says:

This is all very helpful, thanks William.
I have 2 questions:

1. I volunteer at my kids’ private school at least 6 hours a week. Is any of this somehow deductible? (It’s all on file at the school.)

2. A portion of the tuition I pay is allocated to financial aid for others, nobody specific. Is this portion tax deductible?

October 27, 2010 at 4:26 pm
(64) William Perez says:

You cannot take a charitable deduction for the value of your time volunteering.

Regarding the portion of your tuition that is allocated towards financial aid for other students, the IRS unfortunately won’t allow that as a deduction. In Publication 526, which discusses charitable contributions in more detail, the IRS advises, “Tuition, or amounts you pay instead of tuition, even if you pay them for children to attend parochial schools or qualifying nonprofit daycare centers. You also cannot deduct any fixed amount you may be required to pay in addition to the tuition fee to enroll in a private school, even if it is designated as a ‘donation.’”

In other words, there’s no federal deduction for private primary or secondary education. However, private school is an allowable expense for taking distributions from a 529 plan. But there’s no federal deduction for contributing to this kind of savings plan. Instead, any interest or growth on the plan’s assets are tax-free as long as withdrawals are used for certain types of educational expenses.

October 30, 2010 at 10:31 pm
(65) Scott says:

Can a private (non-profit) school alter the “allocation” of funds for a particular parent so that tuition (not deductable)is less and after school (deductable) is higher to save that parent on thier taxes?

December 2, 2010 at 9:12 am
(66) tom says:

can you give a deductible charitable donation to a for profit
private school

December 2, 2010 at 2:35 pm
(67) William Perez says:

To qualify for the charity deduction, the funds must be donated to a qualified, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization. You can search the IRS data base of all qualified charities to see if that particular school is listed.

December 2, 2010 at 3:51 pm
(68) Karen says:

I have a special needs child (HF autism/aspergers) in 8th grade and rather than going through 4 more years of grief with the public school district, we are looking into a private HS just for these special kids. From what I read in the IRS publication for medical expense under “Special Education” this school would be covered….I think.

I realize we can go to due process and try to get our legal fees and private school tuition but that is a battle we are not willing to risk.

2 questions:

1. Do you believe it would it qualify as a medical expense?

2. Can I avoid paying penalties for early withdrawal on our 401 funds to pay for tuition in any way?(parents are 51 & 53 FYI)

thanks for a great article and comments from everyone, it has been alive since 2005, it shows how timeless and worthy discussion it is. Thx

January 3, 2011 at 12:36 pm
(69) Lauren says:

I have a daughter in private school and I understand that I connot get a deduction for her tuition, however, she is also enrolled in the schools “extended care” program as I work late and need child care for her. I pay an additional amount every week to the extended care program (and have all of my reciepts). Can this amount be deducted?

January 3, 2011 at 10:34 pm
(70) William Perez says:

Lauren, the extended care services may qualify for the dependent care tax credit or for tax-free reimbursement through a dependent care flexible spending account.

January 6, 2011 at 10:55 am
(71) john says:

Where does the tax money go?? Field Trips, Supplies, Cameras??? What???

January 13, 2011 at 12:31 am
(72) jill says:

My son is 4 and goes to a private school, along with his siblings. Is my 4 year olds tuition deductible as ‘child care’?

February 4, 2011 at 8:35 pm
(73) Jim says:

Subject: Gift Tax Exemption. IRS publication 950 says generally the following gifts are not taxable gifts and one of the 5 on list is: “Tuition or medical expenses you pay directly to a medical or educational institution for someone.” So if I pay private scecondary school tuition for a grandchild is it not subject to the gift tax? An accountant says only college tuition is not taxable, but I find no IRS explanation on the issue.

February 5, 2011 at 2:58 pm
(74) William Perez says:

Funds paid directly to a bona fide educational institution can be excluded from gift tax considerations under Internal Revenue Code section 2503(e). That paragraph refers us to section 170(b)(1)(A)(ii) for a definition of an educational institution. That particular paragraph reads as follows, “an educational organization which normally maintains a regular faculty and curriculum and normally has a regularly enrolled body of pupils or students in attendance at the place where its educational activities are regularly carried on,…”.

See also, What Gifts Are Not Subject to the Gift Tax?

February 15, 2011 at 12:22 am
(75) BDR says:

May I file private school tuition if it is a condition of my employment as a teacher there? I have no choice unless my kids have learning difficulties, and that is not the case.

March 10, 2011 at 8:00 am
(76) desiree says:

My son is going to a private colledge, can a friend pay for his tution and deduct it as a charitable donation?

March 10, 2011 at 10:06 pm
(77) William Perez says:

No, gifts that are designated as being for the benefit of a specific individual are not tax-deductible charitable gifts. College tuition can be tax-deductible for your son, or could generate a tax credit. See the article about tax breaks for education.

March 21, 2011 at 4:17 pm
(78) randall says:

Can any portion of forfeited tuition for a private school be treated as a charitable donation?

March 29, 2011 at 4:46 pm
(79) Maria says:

Two pertinent questions were not answered:

Are any expenses related to volunteering for a non-profit private school tax deductible. I would think mileage, as it is for other charity work, such as the boy scouts. And perhaps contributions of good solicited for classroom use (toys, games, sanitation supplies, snacks, office materials). Please comment.

Are college courses taken at the community college for credit while a child is in high school deductible as an education expense.

March 29, 2011 at 5:07 pm
(80) Maria says:

Acknowledged that there is no federal deduction for elementary/secondary tuition. It isn’t a charitable deduction.

But the schools are not in competition.

When a parent pays for tuition, the state (taxpayers) are relieved of paying for that child’s education. The parent is picking up the cost, at the same time as performing the obligation to help in funding public schools. It feels like a burden because it is. In Maryland for instance, the parent also forgoes state paid bus service (unlike NJ and PA) to and from school, and other amenities such as meals.

Inasmuch as tax money is used at federal or state level for public schools, it would make some sense for there to be some tax relief given to parents–commensurate to what is saved–who pay out of pocket to relieve the state of the cost of educating their children during the years their children are of school age.

Every state should offer a break for this. Only some do.

April 15, 2011 at 3:22 am
(81) TC says:

I totally agreed with your comments. There should be some state financial relieve for families who chose to send our children to private school; hence saving the state yearly funding per pupil. It should be a state educational credit soon!

April 10, 2011 at 12:04 am
(82) charlie says:

We adopted our daughter at age 1.5. She is now 3 ans has just been diagnosed as having HF autism spectrum. Do we now qualify for the tax credit from our 2008 adoption? Thanks.

April 18, 2011 at 6:52 pm
(83) Kate says:

Our son is recovering from drug addiction. His doctor advised that he attend a special recovery high school. He lived at home and commuted. Are these expenses deductible?

August 27, 2011 at 10:07 am
(84) Susan says:

Can a private parochial high school pay students by the hour ($6.00-students and $8.00 parents)less than minimum wage and apply those earning directly to a students tuition without deducting taxes or reporting to irs? Would this not be considered income?
Also, what if the school became aware that it was not allowed but continued without informing the students or their parents?
Does that then become “tax evasion”?

October 5, 2011 at 3:04 am
(85) Asia says:

I’m selling crafts to pay for my tuition, none of the profits will be used for anything but tuition and buying more supplies for more crafts to sell. Should I be recording this as income? Or is there another way to record it since the money goes straight into my student account at the college?

October 17, 2011 at 3:36 pm
(86) randy says:

If I made a contribution to the GA Private School Tax Credit Program during 2009 and thus received a Ga Tax credit that was paid during 2010 (as well as Itemized deduction for 2009), do I have to include that amount as a taxable refund in 2010 (similar to a state tax refund) on my federal tax return?

October 25, 2011 at 12:53 am
(87) brian g steinberg says:

Good evening.

My wife and I were sending money to several charities to satisfy a charity quota we had as a goal for the year. We have no children but realized my brotherrs family could use benefit from tuition assistance so we sent the private school where his kids attend a $6,000 contribution. The school deposited the check but is saying iit is not a charitable contribution since it was earmarked for a specific family account… since my wife and I do not benefit from any goods or services from the gift, even though my brother’s tuition bill is reduced, can we deduct this from our taxes?


November 20, 2011 at 3:44 am
(88) J b hughes says:

Grandparents should be able to gift a private school -there is no actual benefit to them if their grandchild gets a break on the tuition if they do not ask for a reduction. It is incredulous to me that so many not only fund schools they cannot use but are unable to get a tax deduction on trying to get their children educated – after also paying for other people’s children.this is truly an example of the tail wagging the dog . Ridiculous!!

January 11, 2012 at 11:16 pm
(89) Jamie says:

I see many comments about private school kindergarten, but what about paying for public school?

My 5 year old goes to a public school that only covers half the day. However parents have the option to pay $3,000 to keep them in school the whole day so that both parents can work.

So my question is does this count this as a straight deduction or would this count as a child care credit or is it neither.

January 24, 2012 at 9:09 pm
(90) TJG says:

May I file private school tuition if it is a condition of my employment as a teacher there? I have no choice unless my kids have learning difficulties, and that is not the case.

January 26, 2012 at 7:23 pm
(91) Monica says:

why is daycare tax deductible but not tuition?

January 30, 2012 at 1:24 pm
(92) David says:

Same question Randall had above (3/21/2011) but I don’t see that it’s been addressed.
Example: I pay $9K tuition in July, 2011 which covers the entire upcoming school year for my first grader (Sept, 2011 through May, 2012) . Assume the school is a charitable organization and no issues making fully deductible contributions (i.e., non-tuition). If my first grader is pulled from the school at the end of Jan, 2012 and begins attending another private school on Feb 1, 2012, can the unused or forfeited tuition paid to the first school be deducted as a charitable contribution since no services were received? Since I’m cash basis and the entire $9K was paid in 2011, would the deduction apply to 2011 (if allowed)? Estimated deduction = 4 months/9 months or $4K. Obviously the $5K attributable to Sept, 2011 through Jan, 2012 would not be deductible.
Thank you,

January 30, 2012 at 8:04 pm
(93) William Perez says:

Tuition for private schooling at the primary and secondary levels is not tax-deductible.

February 4, 2012 at 2:27 am
(94) James says:

I’m a volunteer at my Church and was told they would put my kid in their private school for free except $400.00. Later they asked if I could some extra work because of it. Now their calling it a work exchange program and I got a 1099 saying I had over $3000.00 in income. I have never received any money. Is this legal?

February 5, 2012 at 8:14 pm
(95) William Perez says:

James, it sounds to me like the school is taking the position that they are paying you, and then using that amount to pay the tuition fees. In other words, it’s the same as if the school paid you $3000 and you paid the school $3000. The difference here is that you received tuition instead of cash, but the tax treatment is still the same.

February 5, 2012 at 5:21 pm
(96) Claudine says:

We live with my spouse who works outside the U.S. as a contractor with the Dept. of Defense . My son is starting elementary at a private school in the Qatar. There is no other option for schooling. Is there a way to receive some tax credit as the tuition is expensive?

February 6, 2012 at 7:05 am
(97) Jennifer says:

My son is 5 and will go to Kindergarten in a public school next year. For the past 3 years he has attended a pre-school that has been a deduction as child care. This same school has an elementary program that he has attended THIS year-doing a year of Kindergarten work. I know that private school tuition is not deductable but I am sending him to Kindergarten again next year-any way this year can be qualified as DAY CARE?

February 8, 2012 at 6:23 pm
(98) Amy M in Indiana says:

What are your thoughts on the following:

Private elementary school –paid employees whose children receive tuition discount –those employees should get a 1099 for the discount–correct.??

families who have a financial hardship and receive a discount –(maybe we should call this a scholarship?) –do they receive 1099′s? We usually ask these families to volunteer so many hours, but honestly, no one keeps track of their hours to make sure this happens………. 1099′s???

Some families receive a tuition discount b/c they are a member of the school’s church affiation –1099′s for them, too?

Thank you!

February 8, 2012 at 6:26 pm
(99) Amy M in Indiana says:

testing…did the previous go through?

February 21, 2012 at 12:02 pm
(100) Trish says:

If you send your child to private school and still pay public school taxes, why can you not deduct private school tuition?

February 21, 2012 at 1:54 pm
(101) William Perez says:

There is no why when it comes to taxes. Tax deductions and tax credits of all types are a matter of legislative grace. There is no tax law permitting a deduction for elementary or secondary education tuition, while there are laws permitting deductions or credits for postsecondary education. Someone somewhere at some time made a decision to provide a tax benefit for college but not for pre-college education.

February 23, 2012 at 5:23 pm
(102) Susan Tejeda says:

Please tell me about the $500.00 private school income tax credit through the state of Illinois. Our son goes to Catholic school and it would be most helpful. What part of the form is it on??

February 27, 2012 at 10:35 pm
(103) Nate says:

Mark’s comment is completely incorrect in the context of this discussion and should be universally ignored lest you want to one day receive a nasty letter from the IRS.

While it is true that you can gift up to $13k to an individual without reporting it to the IRS, the taxes that you don’t pay are GIFT taxes, not income taxes. They are entirely separate. The money you gave to that individual will not earn you a tax deduction and you WILL pay income taxes on that money unless it was already tax free to begin with. Again, in no uncertain terms, you do NOT get a tax deduction for money “donated” to a specific individual. Mark is referring to another matter entirely.

Good luck.

April 2, 2012 at 8:30 pm
(104) Silvia Barnes says:

I got to an online certification school for medical billing and it’s a private school, can I get a credit to my taxes since I’ve been paying tuition on my own? I’m 20 years old too…

April 16, 2012 at 12:57 pm
(105) Mark says:

I’m told by an adviser at etax.com that my son’s private school (kindergarten) is deductible up to $3000 as a child care provider. Is that not correct?

April 23, 2012 at 12:04 am
(106) Jay says:

Sounds to me like you could give your child up to 13k and they could pay the private tuition and then in a sense it would be tax deductable because you deduct if from your taxes and the child doesn’t have to pay tax.

Am I missing anything here?

May 2, 2012 at 7:55 pm
(107) Rebecca says:

What venue would be best to try and get a tax break law passed? I took my kids out of public schools because they are so horribly run and kids only learn things that no sane parent would want their kids learning — I don’t want to continue contributing money to the government for providing such a poor and often times detrimental service, which is all most public schools are these days.

June 7, 2012 at 10:58 am
(108) N2 says:

All this is way too complicated, and I am an Engineer.
I feel sorry for the average American trying to figure all of this out.
But it does keep our tax professionals occupied :)

This is why we need a flat tax.

July 10, 2012 at 11:21 pm
(109) Steve says:

I am a UK citizen who has moved to USA to work on an H1 Visa. I have had to put my child into a UK boarding school to enable me to come to the USA. to work. Although this is secondary school level and would not be eligible in the USA, would IRS treat this as a special case and accept UK boarding school fees as tax deductible.

July 11, 2012 at 6:50 pm
(110) William Perez says:

Expenses for primary and secondary education are not tax-deductible. A portion of the board and care fees may be eligible for the Dependent Care Tax Credit if the child is under age 13. For children age 13 or older, board and care fees are not eligible either for deductions or tax credits in the U.S.

August 13, 2012 at 10:44 am
(111) Kim says:

I understand that you cannot receive a deduction for elementary and high schools I heard that if the services weren’t available in your area, you may be able to apply. In my situation, I live in NJ and my son attends a creative and arts high school in philadelphia. There is that type of school in Camden county, but he isn’t allowed to attend because we don’t live in Camden city. Would that be a reason to get a deduction for the money we pay the board of ed in Philadelphia?

August 13, 2012 at 8:52 pm
(112) William Perez says:

There is no federal deduction or credit available for primary and secondary education.

October 9, 2012 at 2:33 pm
(113) Lenny G says:

I wonder if a part of a private school tuition can be deducted from real estate taxes. in my locality 40% of RE tax goes to schools, but my child does not. any insight?

November 24, 2012 at 12:37 am
(114) Emily says:

William perez… u r a saint. Answering the same question over and over again.

February 5, 2013 at 10:07 pm
(115) Chris says:

Our daughter needed to withdraw from her private middle school. Tuition was contractually gaurenteed and was prepaid in full. Her position in the school was not filled. Can the portion of her tuition that was unused for her education be considered a charitable contribution .

February 16, 2013 at 1:12 pm
(116) jackie says:

I understand that private school tuition paid from a distribution from a Coverdell Savings Account is tax deductible.

February 22, 2013 at 4:47 pm
(117) Jill de Martinez says:

My daughter attends private school. I work off hours to cover some of the tuition. this is reported as income I got by the school. If I work over the amount that I owed the school, is that reportable as a deduction ?

March 22, 2013 at 10:56 am
(118) Dan says:

What if i wrote a non refundable check to a private school to secure an enrollment spot but then sent my son to a different school before school started. They would not refund the 500.00 back.

April 6, 2013 at 7:11 am
(119) Charlie says:

I gave deposits to two separate catholic high schools and then sent both my children to another school. Can I write off the non-refundable deposits as a donation to the schools?

July 1, 2013 at 4:20 pm
(120) MJM says:

If your business hires your children, can they then pay for their own private school tuition? If allowed, this would have the tax advantage of salary deductions indirectly creating a tax advantage as the kids pay for their own private schooling.

July 3, 2013 at 8:35 pm
(121) William Perez says:

A business can set up a tax-free tuition reimbursement plan for employees to cover the cost of college education.

July 22, 2013 at 9:47 am
(122) lynn says:

A large portion of my child’s private school high school tuition goes directly to tuition scholarships. Can this amount be considered a donation , as my student is not receiving anything back for this amount.

September 7, 2013 at 8:52 pm
(123) Gordon says:

There is a way for you to get tutoring tax free. If you sign up for a medical flex spending account that allows for educational payments you can get your pretax dollars to work for you to pay for tutoring. Also, if your tutoring agency takes your child for any period of time that they charge you, and you are not on the premises, then they are technically providing care for your child while they are tutoring, which is also tax deductible.

Please know that tutoring companies are not working against public schools. As a matter of fact there is a provision under “No Child Left Behind” that calls for schools to promote families to utilize “Supplemental Educational Services”. Not only that but there is money provided in many states under NCLB for Supplemental Educational Services.

September 20, 2013 at 11:32 am
(124) v says:

We paid tuition due to a contractual agreement to a private non-profit school at which our child did not attend. Can we include this on our taxes as a charitable contribution?

September 20, 2013 at 12:37 pm
(125) v says:

We paid tuition due to a contractual agreement to a private non-profit school at which our child did not attend. We are also paying tuition to a private non-profit school at which out child is attending. If it makes a difference, it’s for the same school year. Can we include the tuition to the school our child never attended on our taxes as a charitable contribution?

January 11, 2014 at 8:29 pm
(126) Denise B says:

If you leave a private school mid-year but paid for tuition is full at the beginning of the year. Can you deduct the amount for the time that your child isn’t here..
Example you paid 25,000 and left at the end of the 2nd quarter (half way thru) … can you deduct half 12,500 of your tuition since the school refuses to return the rest of the tuition and your are not receiving services for goods. The school is also is a 501c3.

February 4, 2014 at 1:20 pm
(127) M Post says:

I don’t see that you’ve answered questions about private school tuition being deducted as a job expense. I am required to send my kids to a private school as a condition of my employment. Can I deduct that as a job expense?

March 12, 2014 at 11:51 am
(128) Jessica says:

I am researching for a practice essay on states that use taxes to help cover costs of transport to and from private schools as well as textbooks and special needs for said students. I am trying to find which states use tax for that purpose, can you help?

March 13, 2014 at 3:09 pm
(129) Michelle says:

My children go to a public high school. I pay 250 for my daughter for a bus, 225 per child per sport and 100 activity fee per child, and $125 parking fee for my son. This year we spent $625 on a club/high school crew team as well. I also paid 360 for an sat review class, and $150 for sat testing which is required for colleges. Is any of this deductible???

March 13, 2014 at 4:17 pm
(130) William Perez says:

Hi Michelle, thanks for asking your question. Unfortunately, only college-related expenses are tax deductible. Expenses for primary and secondary education are not tax deductible.

March 29, 2014 at 6:49 pm
(131) J W says:

Turns out that Pre-K or Preschool is only tax deductible if BOTH parents have earned income from a job or if the non-working spouse is a full-time student or is disabled. Basically both parents have to have some conflict with being home all day. Too bad.

April 7, 2014 at 11:31 am
(132) david says:

Lets say the school charges more for tuition than the services are actually worth. For example if tuition in $15,000, however the actual value/cost of education is $12,000. The reason for the increased tuition is for students who can not pay full tuition or other programs run by the school that do not benefit the students. In this case would the excess tuition be deductible as a charitable contribution?

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