I start college in January 2019, but I will be under the 2018-2019 school year. I will only be taking online courses, so I’m going to need a laptop. If I buy one before this year is over, will I be able to put that on my tax returns for 2018, or does it have to be 2019 since that’s when I’ll actually be in school?
First, it’s important to determine if the cost of the laptop is actually deductible and I encourage you to review the IRS’s Qualified Education Expenses. The IRS says that “the amount paid for the computer can qualify for the American Opportunity Tax Credit if you need the computer for attendance at the educational institution.” Federal taxes are on a calendar year basis, so if you’re attending school in 2019 then buy the computer in 2019.
Answered by: Jennifer L. Romberger, CPA, EA, is with Long Financial Group Inc. in Blue Bell, Pa.