Whether or not an educational trip will qualify for a tax deduction depends on a variety of factors. Are you a student or a business person? If you're a working person, are you an employee or a contractor? Are you combining some vacation or personal travel with the educational trip?
Reviewing what education costs are tax-deductible will help you avoid making a mistake on your tax filings and get you any tax deductions to which you're entitled.
Video of the Day
Student vs. Professional
The first step in determining whether or not an educational trip is tax-deductible is to determine your status as a taxpayer. If you are a business person who is traveling to a seminar to improve your software, marketing, HR or other professional skills, that trip might be deductible. It depends on whether you're an employee or contractor.
If you're a student who is taking a trip to Europe to meet people from other countries or study a language in its country of origin, you won't be able to write that trip off. Even travel for a semester of required coursework won't qualify.
Consider Also: What's Different About the 2021 Child Tax Credit?
Employee vs. Independent Professional
The Tax Cut and Jobs Act ended tax deductions for unreimbursed business expenses for employees, beginning January 1, 2018, through 2025. Contractors, sole proprietors, small-business owners, freelancers and gig workers, however, can claim education costs as business expenses.
For example, if you are an employee of Apple and you want to take some coding classes offered at a conference in Chicago, you can't deduct that trip. If you are an independent IT consultant and you want to go to that seminar in Chicago because you'll learn new skills you can offer to clients, you can write off that trip.
Consider Also: Schedule A: Instructions on How to Itemize Deductions
Type of Education
If your educational trip is directly related to the work you do, that trip will qualify as a deduction. Even if it's to learn soft business skills, such as interpersonal communications, time management and leadership, you can most likely write the trip off. Talk to a tax professional to make sure any business trip you plan on taking meets the requirements for it to be tax-deductible.
If you are studying abroad, you can deduct some of your educational – but not travel – expenses, explains Policygenius.com. That means if you are taking classes that count toward a diploma, certificate or degree, you can write off the cost of books, tuition and fees. You can't write off your airfare and room while you're studying.
Read up on the American Opportunity Tax Credit and Lifetime Learning Credit tax programs to learn more. You can also review the IRS guidelines for Qualified Education Expenses for more information, or the introductory IRS page, Tax Benefits for Education: Information Center.
Combining Two Trips
Many people incorrectly believe they can write off vacations if they do some business while on the trip. For example, if your Chicago coding seminar is a two-day event, you can't stay in Chicago for five more days, taking in Cubs and Bulls games, visiting with friends and touring the city, and then write off the trip.
The primary purpose of the trip must be business-related. If you want to stay a few extra days for personal reasons, that's fine, but you can't write off the hotel nights, cabs, meals and other expenses related to those extra days.