With the arrival of August, families with school-aged children are paying school registration fees and starting to buy school supplies. "Save those receipts! The State of Iowa offers an income tax credit equal to 25% of your costs for qualified K-12 education expenses," according to Jan Burk, ISU Extension Family Resource Management Specialist.
Examples of qualifying expenses: school registration fees, required school supplies, and fees for extra-curricular activities. The expenses must be related to coursework and activities at an accredited school. Driver's education fees qualify if they are paid to the school. Expenses that do NOT qualify include: school lunches, transportation, and clothing for everyday wear.
The tax credit is limited to $250 for each school-aged child, so qualifying expenses up to $1,000 per child can be included. Burk acknowledges that "the typical elementary-aged child in public school is more likely to have expenses of around $100," but adds that if a family has two children, each with school-related expenses of $100, then the family will be eligible for a $50 tax credit. The simple task of keeping track of school expenses will add $50 to their tax refund. "Most families will find that it's worth the small effort involved. I don't know very many people who would walk right past a $50 bill they found on the sidewalk!" quips Burk. She adds that as students move into high school, many will have larger school-related expenses, making the tax credit even more valuable to their families.
Burk points out that there are some fine distinctions between expenses that qualify for the tax credit and those that do not. For example, required clothing for extra-curricular activities can also be included, IF it is not suitable for wearing elsewhere. With that in mind, football shoes qualify for the credit because the cleats make them inappropriate for anything other than football. However, basketball shoes can be worn elsewhere, so they do not qualify.
For more information about the tax credit, and which expenses qualify, contact the Cherokee County Extension Office for a fact sheet that describes the details. You may also find it on our website: www.extension.iastate.edu/cherokee/news/....