Thursday, October 6, 2016

Do You Have To Register To Be Considered A College Student?

I cannot believe this case made it to the Tax Court.

Granted, it is a "pro se" decision, which means that the taxpayer represented himself/herself. It sometimes is the professional wrestling of tax literature.

I will give you the facts, and you can tell me how the case was decided.

Through 2012 Brittany was a student at Saddleback College (Saddleback) in Mission Viejo, California. Our story takes place in the spring, when Brittany registered for a five-hour physiology course.  She also attended (for eight weeks, at least) a contemporary health course, although she never registered or enrolled in the course.

She filed her 2012 tax return and claimed a $2,500 American Opportunity tax credit. This is the credit for the first four years of college.

The IRS bounced the return. It pointed out the following from Code section 25A:
(B) Credit allowed for year only if individual is at least 1/2 time student for portion of year
The Hope Scholarship Credit under subsection (a)(1) shall not be allowed for a taxable year with respect to the qualifies tuition and related expenses of an individual unless such individual is an eligible student for at least one academic period which begins during such year.
The term "eligible student" in turn is defined as one carrying at least half the normal full-time workload at school.

The IRS saw a five-hour load and did not see an eligible student.

Brittany did not see it that way. She saw a five-hour load and her sitting-in on a three-hour course. That added up to eight hours, which was more than half-time.

What did the Tax Court decide?

We do not need Apple's tax department for this one.

The Regulations require that a student enroll at the school. And the course. Each course.

Five hours was not enough to be half-time. She did not qualify for the credit.

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