I’m sure growing up you heard your parents say that education was the key to success. Whether that meant going to college, vocational school or having an internship or apprenticeship, education was always the answer for good, stable futures. However, schooling at all levels can be rather expensive. There’s crayons, pencils and notebooks to buy, new clothes to buy, tuition to pay for, paying for room and board and even meal plans. It can be quite expensive and adds up really quick, but surprisingly enough, there are tax benefits for knowledge! So to add to your knowledge are some tax tips to keep in mind. As they say, knowledge is power…and at times financially beneficial!

First and foremost is the easiest tip that probably everyone knows about; tax free weekend. In Virginia, this year (2016) tax free weekend was August 5 through August 7. It’s a three-day event where there is no sales tax on qualified items such as most school supplies, clothing and shoes, and even things like first aid kits and batteries. It’s a nice little perk, and tax break, to help parents load up on much needed school supplies and that’s only the beginning!

Did you know there is a tax credit where before and after school care can be deducted for children under thirteen? Babysitters, summer camp or other care providers may qualify for the tax credit of up to 35 percent of qualifying expenses of $3,000 for one child or up to $6,000 for two or more dependents. The tax credit was designed to help working parents with some of the expenses involved with raising children and the credit helps reduce the amount of federal income tax, which can then increase a taxpayer’s refund.

Educational saving plans, such as 529 plans, are also something designed to help parents have some extra funds for education in terms of college and university. These plans are specifically geared towards education and are not federally taxable. Further, withdraws from the account are not taxable as long as the money is used for college expenses such as textbooks, computer, calculators, etc.

Even with something like a 529 plan, sometimes further assistance by way of student loans is necessary. There’s not much to be excited about where student loans exist, but there is a slight silver lining to them. For instance, when filing your taxes, make sure you list the interest you’ve paid on the loan because up to $2,500 can be deducted within a given year. Yippee!

If you do have a student loan, you should receive a 1098T, and it’ll let you know the amount of interest you’ve paid. This nifty little form is also helpful for the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC). This can amount to $2,500 in tax credits and up to 40 percent of the credit is refundable. This is available for the first four years of post-secondary education (vocational school, college and graduate school) and eligible expenses include tuition, books and required supplies, not room and board. AOTC is intended to help offset college expenses but keep in mind there’s an income limit attached to this credit.

We just wanted to give our beloved clients a heads up on some options they may have when it comes to their children’s education, or if they themselves are thinking about further education. While education can be spendy at times, but we try to help lessen the stress of it if when we can!