As Congress moves to consider extending the payroll tax cut, U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Queens/L.I.) today introduced legislation that would reinstate critical middle-class tax relief for students and families struggling to afford college.
The measure, entitled the American College Tuition Tax Relief Act, would once again allow students and parents to deduct the cost of college tuition as well as other related fees, such as expenses for books, supplies, equipment and student-activity fees. The deduction, which has helped middle-class families afford the increasing costs of higher education since 2001, expired this past December 31st.
Under the bill, a maximum tax deduction of $4,000 would be allowed for individuals with an income of up to $65,000 ($130,000 for joint incomes) and $2,000 for those who earn $65,000 to $80,000 ($160,000 for joint incomes). The legislation would extend the deduction through 2016 to help families and students plan for four-year college educations.
"This deduction has provided critical relief to those who are struggling to afford a college education, and Congress should have never allowed it to expire," said Ackerman, a former New York City school teacher who attended Queens College. "It is essential that Congress take action to restore this vital deduction so that students and hard working middle-class families trying to pay for college can continue to receive this vital benefit, and not face a tax increase. My constituents who are concerned that this tax deduction may not be available for the 2012 tax year can be assured that I am pushing hard to move my bill either on its own, or as part of a larger measure."
Those eligible for the tuition tax deduction include individuals who pay for two or four-year colleges, universities, vocational schools or other postsecondary institutions. IRS data indicates that in 2009, 2.4 million tax returns deducted approximately $5.5 billion worth of tuition and fees using this deduction.