Education credit question


Y

y

A student gets married in 2009. The student's parents paid eligible
tuition directly to the institution in and for 2009 before the student
got married. [The student got married just after graduation.]

Who can claim the education credit (American Opportunity Credit)?

The parents' accountant says that they can claim this credit since "the
rules for tuition are based on your status at the time of the expense".

However, Pub 970 says:

"Generally, you can claim the American opportunity credit if all four
of the following requirements are met.

*You pay qualified education expenses of higher education.

*You pay the education expenses for an eligible student.

*The eligible student is either yourself, your spouse, or a
dependent for whom you claim an exemption on your tax return.

*You choose not to claim the Hope credit for any student in 2009."

Clearly, the student cannot be claimed as an exemption on the parents'
2009 return.

I cannot find anything in Pub 970 that supports the parents'
accountant's position. Similarly, perusing IRC section 25(a), I can
find nothing to support this position.

If that accountant is wrong, then the student can claim the credit,
including the tuition the parents paid directly to the school on the
student's behalf. Right?
 
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P

Phil Marti

A student gets married in 2009.  The student's parents paid eligible
tuition directly to the institution in and for 2009 before the student
got married. [The student got married just after graduation.]

Who can claim the education credit (American Opportunity Credit)?
Whoever claims the student's personal exemption.
Clearly, the student cannot be claimed as an exemption on the parents'
2009 return.
That's not clear to me based on the facts provided. Check out Pub 501
for dependency requirements. If the only thing in the way of
dependency is the joint return test the couples should look to see
what works best for the two combined.

Phil Marti
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