The 1098-T form is a Tuition Statement that educational institutions in the United States are required to issue to students who have paid “qualified educational expenses” in the preceding tax year.
This document is essential for students and their families who wish to claim education-related tax credits. Given its importance, many people wonder if a school can legally withhold or prevent a student from receiving this document.
The short answer is generally no, but the issue may be complicated by several factors which we will explore in this article.
According to IRS regulations, eligible educational institutions are required to file a Form 1098-T for each student enrolled for whom a reportable transaction is made.
Institutions usually must furnish a copy to the student by January 31st and file the forms with the IRS by March 31st. Failure to do so may result in penalties for the educational institution.
Common Reasons for Delays or Withholding
1. Outstanding Financial Obligations
If a student has unpaid tuition or other school-related fees, the school may use this as a basis for withholding the form, although doing so might not be in line with IRS requirements.
Some institutions may delay the release of the form until financial obligations are met, but they usually cannot permanently withhold the document.
2. Incomplete Personal Information
Sometimes schools may be unable to issue a 1098-T form because they do not have accurate or complete personal information for the student, such as a valid Social Security Number (SSN).
It’s essential to ensure all records are updated to receive the form on time.
3. Online Access
Many schools have transitioned to providing tax forms electronically.
If you have not consented to receive your form online or haven’t checked the designated online portal, it may seem like your school is withholding the document, while in reality, it’s been available to you.
What to Do If You Haven’t Received Your 1098-T
Contact the Bursar’s Office
The Bursar’s Office or the financial office of your school is the primary point of contact for all payment and form-related issues.
Check Online Portals
If your school offers the 1098-T form electronically, it’s a good idea to check any online portals where the document might be uploaded.
File a Complaint
If your school refuses to issue a 1098-T despite your eligibility, you can report this to the IRS. While this is an extreme measure, it is an option if all else fails.
While schools are legally obligated to provide eligible students with a 1098-T form, delays or issues can arise for various reasons.
Outstanding financial obligations or incomplete personal information can affect the release of this important document, but outright withholding is generally not permitted under IRS regulations.
However, it’s essential to communicate effectively with your educational institution and explore all available avenues to resolve any issues preventing the release of your 1098-T form.
Remember, this document is not just a bureaucratic requirement but a crucial element in securing potential educational tax benefits.
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40 FAQs on 1098-T Forms and Educational Tax Credits
1. What is a 1098-T form?
The 1098-T form is a Tuition Statement provided by educational institutions to students who have paid for “qualified educational expenses.” It is used for tax purposes.
2. Who issues the 1098-T form?
Educational institutions such as universities, colleges, and vocational schools issue the form.
3. What is the deadline for schools to send the 1098-T?
The form should be furnished to students by January 31st and filed with the IRS by March 31st.
4. Can my school withhold my 1098-T form?
Generally, schools cannot withhold the 1098-T form as they are required by the IRS to issue them for qualifying students.
5. What should I do if I haven’t received my 1098-T?
Contact the Bursar’s Office or the financial office of your school immediately to resolve the issue.
6. What qualifies as “educational expenses”?
Tuition fees and course-related expenses like books and supplies are considered educational expenses.
7. Can I claim tax credits without a 1098-T form?
While the 1098-T is important, it is not strictly necessary for claiming education credits, although having it makes the process easier.
8. What tax credits can I claim with a 1098-T?
You can claim the American Opportunity Credit or the Lifetime Learning Credit using the information in your 1098-T form.
9. How can I download my 1098-T form online?
Many schools offer electronic copies via their student portals.
10. What if there’s a mistake on my 1098-T form?
Contact your school immediately to rectify any errors.
11. What should I do if I lost my 1098-T form?
You can request a duplicate from your educational institution.
12. Can international students receive a 1098-T?
Yes, if they have a Social Security Number (SSN) or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) and have incurred educational expenses.
13. Can I receive a 1098-T for online courses?
Yes, online courses from eligible institutions also qualify for a 1098-T.
14. What if my personal information is incorrect on the form?
Contact your school to update your records and receive a corrected 1098-T.
15. Can I get a 1098-T for vocational training?
If the institution providing the training is eligible, then yes.
16. What does Box 1 on the 1098-T contain?
Box 1 shows the total payments received by the school for your qualified tuition and related expenses.
17. What is in Box 2?
Box 2 is now reserved and no longer used. Previously, it showed amounts billed for qualified tuition and related expenses.
18. What is in Box 5?
Box 5 shows the total of all scholarships or grants administered and processed by the eligible educational institution.
19. Do I have to report scholarships on my 1098-T?
Yes, scholarships and grants are usually reported in Box 5.
20. How do I enter 1098-T information on my tax return?
You’ll enter the information in the education section of your federal tax return.
21. Is a 1098-T necessary for claiming a tuition and fees deduction?
The tuition and fees deduction has been eliminated for most taxpayers but was available even without a 1098-T in previous years.
22. Can parents receive a 1098-T for their children?
The form is issued to the student, but parents may use the information for claiming educational credits if they claim the student as a dependent.
23. Can I claim room and board as educational expenses?
No, room and board do not qualify as educational expenses for the 1098-T.
24. Can I get a 1098-T for non-credit courses?
Only if the course is part of a post-secondary degree program.
25. What if I pay tuition with a student loan?
You should still receive a 1098-T form, as loan money used for tuition counts as a payment.
26. Is work-study income reported on the 1098-T?
No, work-study is considered earned income and is not reported on the 1098-T.
27. What if I have a scholarship that exceeds my tuition?
Box 5 will indicate the amount, but you may owe taxes on the excess amount.
28. Can I get a 1098-T for pre-school expenses?
No, only post-secondary education expenses are eligible.
29. Can I receive a 1098-T if I am auditing a class?
Generally, no, unless you are receiving credit for the course.
30. What if I withdraw from a course?
If you withdraw after the add/drop period and have incurred a financial responsibility, you will likely still get a 1098-T.
31. Can multiple family members claim the same student’s 1098-T?
No, only one tax return can claim the education credit for a particular student in a given tax year.
32. What if I have more than one 1098-T?
You can combine the amounts for claiming educational credits.
33. Can I use a 1098-T for state tax returns?
This varies by state, so check your state’s tax regulations.
34. Can I use the 1098-T for previous years?
You can only use the 1098-T for the tax year it was issued.
35. What happens if I don’t claim the education credit?
You will miss out on potential tax savings.
36. What if my school went out of business?
Contact the IRS for guidance, as you may still be able to claim educational expenses.
37. Can I receive a 1098-T for part-time enrollment?
Yes, part-time students are also eligible.
38. What if I have an educational savings account?
Educational savings accounts don’t directly affect your 1098-T, but they may affect how much of the education credit you can claim.
39. What if my school didn’t report my full tuition payment?
Contact your school’s financial office to resolve the discrepancy.
40. Can graduate students receive a 1098-T?
Yes, graduate students are also eligible for receiving a 1098-T form.