I want to go to nursing school. Can I write off the tuition?

October 08, 2014 by Dave Du Val, EA
Nurse helping woman

Hey Dave,

My wife is a nurse, but she does not have a degree. She is interested in taking classes to get a BSN degree - a bachelor of science in nursing. Her job does not require this degree, but she feels she needs it to be considered equal to co-workers who already have the BSN, or to help her chances if she changed jobs. Would any of her tuition or other education expenses be tax deductible?





Generally, education expenses such as those you mention are deductible as employee business expenses to the extent they exceed 2% of your adjusted gross income (and assuming you will itemize deductions), provided that the education will not qualify your wife for a new profession and will maintain and improve the skills needed by her in her present position. That being said, prepare yourselves for a potential uphill battle with the IRS, especially if she changes jobs shortly after receiving the degree. You may be asked to document your circumstances and expenses. More information on deducting work-related educational expenses is available here.

Please also note that there may be educational credits available if after reviewing the requirements you do not feel you qualify for the employee business expense deduction. Your wife may be eligible for the American Opportunity Credit, which may be claimed for up to 4 years of undergraduate education. Also, there is the Lifetime Learning Credit, available to most students. Lastly, there is also a Tuition and Fees Deduction that is currently expired, but will likely be extended by Congress. TurboTax can assist you in finding the best tax outcome amongst the alternatives. More details about tax benefits for education may be found here.

Deductibly Yours,




David E. Du Val, EA
Chief Compliance Officer for TRI Holdco


Dave Du Val, EA, is Chief Compliance Officer for TRI Holdco. Inc., the parent company of TaxAudit, and Centenal Tax Group. A nationally recognized speaker and educator, Dave is well known for his high energy and dynamic presentation style. He is a frequent and popular guest speaker for the California Society of Tax Consultants, the California Society of Enrolled Agents and the National Association of Tax Professionals. Dave frequently contributes tax tips and information to news publications, including US News and World Report, USA Today, and CPA Practice Advisor. Dave is an Enrolled Agent who has prepared thousands of returns during his career and has trained and mentored hundreds of tax professionals. He is a member of the National Association of Tax Professionals, the National Association of Enrolled Agents and the California Society of Enrolled Agents. Dave also holds a Master of Arts in Education and has been educating people since 1972. 


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