Am I able to deduct the cost of a laptop I’m using for college courses?

by Jennifer L. Romberger, CPA | Dec 07, 2018

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.

The responses are based on the limited information provided by the questioner and apply the laws and regulations at the time of posting. Other options could arise as rules and regulations may change over time, including but not limited to the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. They are intended to provide general information, not specific accounting or tax advice; they are not intended or written to be used and cannot be used for the purpose of avoiding or evading taxes or penalties under the IRS code or regulations. Views expressed do not imply an opinion of the PICPA, its officers, directors, employees, or members.
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