If you're currently paying off a student loan, you may get Form 1098-E in the mail from each of your lenders. Your lenders have to report how much interest you pay annually. Student loan interest can be deductible on federal tax returns, but receiving a 1098-E doesn't always mean you're eligible to take the deduction.
What Form 1098-E tells you
Your lenders are required to send you Form 1098-E only if you paid at least $600 in student loan interest during the year. If you have several student loans with the same lender, the financial institution applies the $600 threshold amount to the total interest paid on all of your loans; you may get a separate Form 1098-E for each loan, though. The amount you see in box 1 reflects your total interest payments for the year.
When to deduct student loan interest
The student loan interest deduction is taken as an adjustment when calculating your adjusted gross income, or AGI. This means you don't have to itemize your deductions to take it.
To qualify, the interest payments you make during the year must be on a student loan that you took out to put yourself, your dependents or spouse through school. If you're married filing separately, or for 2020 if your modified adjusted gross income, or MAGI, is $85,000 or more if filing single or $170,000 if married filing jointly, you can't deduct any student loan interest. Your MAGI is essentially your adjusted gross income (AGI) with certain deductions added back in.
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How much interest is deductible
Regardless of how much interest you paid, the maximum you can deduct is $2,500. If you're eligible to deduct student loan interest, your deductible amount goes on Schedule 1 as an adjustment to income. Your 1098-E forms will provide the amounts reported but you can also add student loan interest payments you made that aren't reported on Form 1098-E to this total as long as the interest is paid on a qualified loan.
When Box 2 is checked
If Box 2 of Form 1098-E is checked, it means that the amount reported in Box 1 doesn't include the loan's origination fees and/or any capitalized interest. Only loans you took out before September 1, 2004, however, should have box 2 checked.
An origination fee is typically a percentage of your loan that's withheld from the disbursed funds. You can include a portion of this fee as deductible interest. Dividing the origination fee by the number of years you have to pay off the loan gives you the amount you can treat as student loan interest each year. And if the lender capitalized (increased the principal loan balance) for unpaid accrued interest, you calculate the portion that's deductible each year in the same way as the origination fee.
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