In 1986, Congress disallowed most tax deductions for educational travel. Taxpayers cannot deduct the cost of traveling when the travel itself is the educational goal. However, professionals seeking continuing education and business owners traveling for business education can still deduct the cost of travel. As well, college students studying abroad can deduct educational expenses incurred during the trip.
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Continuing Education for Employees
Various professionals, like accountants, lawyers and medical professionals, must take continuing educational courses to maintain professional certifications. The IRS allows these professionals to deduct the cost of travel if the education is required for you to maintain your job or status. If your employer doesn't reimburse you for the travel, you can deduct the expenses as an itemized deduction.
Educational Travel for Business Owners
If you own your own business, you have lots of flexibility in deducting educational business travel. Since you're deducting the cost of travel as a business expense, rather than an employee business itemized deduction, you're not subject to as stringent IRS rules. Not only can business owners deduct the travel cost related to continuing education, they can deduct travel costs for business seminars or other educational programs related to their business.
Students Studying Abroad
Unfortunately, students traveling for educational purposes can't typically deduct the cost of travel. However, the students can still deduct other costs -- like tuition, fees, books and supplies -- incurred in a study abroad educational program. The only caveat is that the student must be in a degree-seeking or certificate program.
Claiming Educational Credits and Deductions
Either the student or the student's parents can claim educational expenses as a tax deduction. The largest tax break for educational expenses comes from either the American Opportunity tax credit or the Lifetime Learning credit. Tuition, fees, books and supplies can be deducted through these credits. However, the payback is quite substantial. The American Opportunity credit offers a maximum tax rebate of $2,500 and the Lifetime Learning credit refunds up to $2,000. If the taxpayer doesn't qualify for either of these tax credits, he can still deduct the cost of tuition and fees through the tuition and fees deduction.