Taxpayer asks:My daughter attends an independent private elementary school. We pay around $10,000 a year in tuition. Is it deductible?
Thanks for writing.
This is actually one of my pet peeves in tax policy. You don’t get a break for paying for private school tuition: if you pay for private or parochial school, no deduction.
Expenses for a child in nursery school, pre-school, or similar programs for children below the level of kindergarten are deductible if they otherwise qualify as child care. However, there is one potential break with respect to kindergarten and older grades: if you can separate the educational costs from the child care component, you may be able to deduct the child care piece. Additionally, expenses for before- or after-school care of a child in kindergarten or a higher grade at a private school may be deductible so long as the costs qualify. For more information about qualifying child care expenses, click here.
I’ve gone on record before as saying that I believe that this is bad public policy. It encourages parents to weigh the “cost” of education versus child care. For example, since I can keep my child out of school in the state of Pennsylvania until the age of 8 (!), if I paid for private childcare at home instead of school while I worked, that would be deductible. If I send my child to private school, that cost is not deductible.
Also curious, Romney had suggested a federal tax credit for homeschooled children – nothing for children who go to private school. That, however, is not current law.
If you’re interested on reading more about this issue, my prior post about why I think this is bad policy – and why being middle class in America sucks – was one of my highest commented posts last year. You can check it out here.
Like any good lawyer, I need to add a disclaimer: Unfortunately, it is impossible to give comprehensive tax advice over the internet, no matter how well researched or written. Before relying on any information given on this site, contact a tax professional to discuss your particular situation.
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