|Name of Act
|Name of Provision
|10yr Revenue Estimate ($millions)
|The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012
|Extension of the American opportunity credit
|The Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010
|Extend American Opportunity Tax Credit
|The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-5)
|American Opportunity Tax Credit
Extension of the American opportunity credit
Explanation of Provision
The provision extends for five years (through 2017) the temporary modifications to the Hope credit that are known as the American opportunity tax credit, including the rules governing the treatment of the U.S. possessions.
Extend American Opportunity Tax Credit
Explanation of Provision
The provision extends for two years (through 2012) the temporary modifications to the Hope credit for taxable years beginning in 2009 and 2010 that are known as the American Opportunity Tax Credit, including the rules governing the treatment of the U.S. possessions.
American Opportunity Tax Credit
Explanation of Provision49
The provision modifies the Hope credit for taxable years beginning in 2009 or 2010. The modified credit is referred to as the American Opportunity Tax credit. The allowable modified credit is up to $2,500 per eligible student per year for qualified tuition and related expenses paid for each of the first four years of the student’s post-secondary education in a degree or certificate program. The modified credit rate is 100 percent on the first $2,000 of qualified tuition and related expenses, and 25 percent on the next $2,000 of qualified tuition and related expenses. For purposes of the modified credit, the definition of qualified tuition and related expenses is expanded to include course materials.50
Under the provision, the modified credit is available with respect to an individual student for four years, provided that the student has not completed the first four years of post-secondary education before the beginning of the fourth taxable year. Thus, the modified credit, in addition to other modifications, extends the application of the Hope credit to two more years of post-secondary education.
The modified credit that a taxpayer may otherwise claim is phased out ratably for taxpayers with modified adjusted gross income between $80,000 and $90,000 ($160,000 and $180,000 for married taxpayers filing a joint return). The modified credit may be claimed against a taxpayer’s alternative minimum tax liability.
Forty percent of a taxpayer’s otherwise allowable modified credit is refundable. However, no portion of the modified credit is refundable if the taxpayer claiming the credit is a child to whom section 1(g) applies for such taxable year (generally, any child under age 18 or any child under age 24 who is a student providing less than one-half of his or her own support, who has at least one living parent and does not file a joint return).
In addition, the provision requires the Secretary of the Treasury to conduct two studies and submit a report to Congress on the results of those studies within one year after the date of enactment. The first study shall examine how to coordinate the Hope and Lifetime Learning credits with the Pell grant program. The second study shall examine requiring students to perform community service as a condition of taking their tuition and related expenses into account for purposes of the Hope and Lifetime Learning credits.
Under the Act, bona fide residents of the U.S. possessions (American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands) are not permitted to claim the refundable portion of the American opportunity credit in the United States. Rather, a bona fide resident of a mirror code possession (the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands) may claim the refundable portion of the credit in the possession in which the individual is a resident. Similarly, a bona fide resident of a non-mirror code possession (the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and American Samoa) may claim the refundable portion of the credit in the possession in which the individual is a resident, but only if that possession establishes a plan for permitting the claim under its internal law.
The Act provides that the U.S. Treasury will make payments to the possessions in respect of credits allowable to their residents under their internal laws. Specifically, the U.S. Treasury will make payments to each mirror code possession in an amount equal to the aggregate amount of the refundable portion of the credits allowable by reason of the provision to that possession’s residents against its income tax. This amount will be determined by the Treasury Secretary based on information provided by the government of the respective possession. To each possession that does not have a mirror code tax system, the U.S. Treasury will make two payments (for 2009 and 2010, respectively) in an amount estimated by the Secretary as being equal to the aggregate amount of the refundable portion of the credits that would have been allowed to residents of that possession if a mirror code tax system had been in effect in that possession. Accordingly, the amount of each payment to a non mirror code possession will be an estimate of the aggregate amount of the refundable portion of the credits that would be allowed to the possession’s residents if the credit provided by the provision to U.S. residents were provided by the possession to its residents. This payment will not be made to any U.S. possession unless that possession has a plan that has been approved by the Secretary under which the possession will promptly distribute the payment to its residents.
49- The provision was subsequently amended by section 103 of the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010, Pub. L. No. 111–312, described in Part Sixteen.
-Return to Explanation of Provision
50- A technical correction may be necessary so that the statute reflects this intent. See section 2(a) of H.R. 4169, the ‘‘Tax Technical Corrections Act of 2009,’’ introduced December 2, 2009.
-Return to Explanation of Provision