Private education can span from pre-school through graduate school and cost parents a bundle. While the federal government does offer tax relief for private school tuition in some cases, the deductions are not widely available at every level. Internal Revenue Service publication 970 gives an overview of different kinds of tax breaks for private school tuition, even if they are not specifically tax deductions. You should consult with a tax adviser before claiming private school tuition as a deduction.
Certain states such as Louisiana offer tax breaks for private school tuition. On the federal level, private school expenses are only tax-deductible under special circumstances. In the latter case, potentially deductible expenses may include braille lessons, training for a child with dyslexia, and required room and board. Regular coursework can also be deductible for students taking special courses to overcome a disability.
Special Cases: the Medical Expense Deduction
You may be able to make a case for a federal tax deduction for private school tuition as a medical expense. You will have to prove your child has a medical or behavioral condition that requires private schooling, and you tried to receive help from the school district.
Higher Education Credits
Private college and graduate school tuition costs are eligible for such credits as the American Opportunity Credit and Lifetime Learning Credit. These credits reduce your total tax bill dollar-for-dollar if your student attends an eligible educational institution. The latter must be any post-secondary institution and can be privately-owned and for-profit. Expenses such as room and board, transportation and living expenses do not qualify.
Student Loan Interest Deduction
If you took out student loans to pay private educational tuition for your child's undergraduate or graduate studies, yet another deduction is available. The student loan interest deduction reduces your taxable income by up to $2,500 and covers eligible expenses such as tuition, room and board, books, supplies and transportation. Time limits and modified adjusted gross income limits apply.