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How much can I put for book & supply expenses as part of my Education Expenses for my 2016 tax return?


Guest Chiper91
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Guest Chiper91

So I am filing my tax return right now. It is asking for my required book & supply expenses. In my program, we have three semesters (Fall, Spring, Summer) in which we need to take courses. Each course has many books as you already know. I do not know exactly how much I spent on them but I am thinking about putting $1000 for book & Supply expenses for 2016? Would that be too much? Would I get into trouble for that?

How much do you put for Book & Supply expenses?

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I order almost all of my books on Amazon which gives me a record to look back to when it's time for taxes. I know that this year my books and supplies will be higher because I needed to get many more supplies than in previous years. If you're using turbotax or something similar, it should tell you your audit risk after filling it out. 

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Just remember that it can only be books and supplies which are listed as *required* by the course. 

As far as I know, there is no cap as long as you can prove that each purchase was required by a course you took during that year. Recommended texts don't count. 

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9 hours ago, Chiper91 said:

So I am filing my tax return right now. It is asking for my required book & supply expenses. In my program, we have three semesters (Fall, Spring, Summer) in which we need to take courses. Each course has many books as you already know. I do not know exactly how much I spent on them but I am thinking about putting $1000 for book & Supply expenses for 2016? Would that be too much? Would I get into trouble for that?

How much do you put for Book & Supply expenses?

Yes, you will get in trouble for this if you get caught/audited. As Eigen said, you need to meet two requirements to claim them:

1) They must be required. Not just recommended. But actually listed as required. Things like pens and notebooks do not count, unless there was a special pen or a special notebook required to complete the course.

2) You must have documentation/receipts for every item purchased. No estimating.

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  • 4 weeks later...

MOO, given the current administration's hostility towards education and the educated as well as the POTUS's admiration for decisive executive action, I'd go with the standard deduction unless my education expenses were yuge. And then I'd hire an accountant.

If you do decide to itemize your deduction, make sure that you know the statute of limitations in relation to when you plan to take your qualifying exams.:huh:

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  • 2 weeks later...

As tax season rolls around again, I once again worry about my many grad student colleagues who insist on "gaming the system" by reporting all of their lump-sum disbursement fellowship money (i.e. what they use to pay for their food, rent, transportation, and personal expenses) as educational expenses and thus get a refund rather than paying taxes on it. When someone hands you $12,000 at once to pay for everything in your life for six months, it's worrisome to think that so many are failing to put away 10% or so in advance (anticipating taxes), are left with nothing their account at the end of the period, and then are even willing to falsely report to get a refund at the end of it :(

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