Is Private School Tuition Tax Deductible? 
Private school tuition can be costly, which means that many parents seek out different ways to help them save a bit of money on their children’s primary and secondary school education.
One question parents ask is if they can receive federal tax deductions for private school tuition.
Discover the answer to this question as well as a number of ways that you can potentially save some money on your children’s private school education when it comes to your taxes. This information helps you plan your child’s education and maximize his or her potential and success.
Federal Tax Deductions For Private School
To afford private elementary or secondary private school tuition, parents may wish to reduce their annual federal tax obligation. Deducting private school tuition would give parents a beneficial tax break. Unfortunately, the federal government typically does not offer federal tax deductions for private school tuition.
Federal tax deductions for education are available for your child’s post-secondary education costs. Enroll your child in a trade or vocational school, community college, university, or other accredited education program and that educational tuition cost can be included as a deduction on your federal tax return.
The only way you can deduct post-secondary tuition is if your child enrolls after high school. You can’t take advantage of this deduction unless your child has already graduated from high school and has decided to pursue advanced training. Until your child officially graduates from high school, you will not get federal tax deductions for private school.
Private School for CHildren with Disabilities
Typically, you can not obtain federal tax deductions for private school tuition. An exception to this rule is if your child is enrolled in a primary or secondary private school that’s designed specifically for children with disabilities.
To qualify for this deduction, your child must receive an official diagnosis from a qualified physician. Also, the private school must offer a program that specifically treats your child’s disability or provides therapeutic help for your child’s disability.
Keep in mind that you can only qualify for this medical-related tuition deduction if you itemize deductions on your federal tax return.
Additionally, the total of your medical expenses must exceed 10 percent of your adjusted gross income.
Maintain careful records that detail each medical expense you, your spouse, and your children incur, including tuition at your child’s medically necessary school, to help you qualify for this important federal tax deduction for private school.
Virginia State Tax Breaks Outside Of Private School
You may be able to get tax breaks for certain educational expenses outside of your child’s private school tuition.
For example, some states will provide tax breaks for expenses that include textbooks and supplies. The state of Virginia holds tax-free shopping days every August. During these days, you won’t have to pay taxes on the purchase of school supplies, clothing or shoes.
Another example of a tax break includes Virginia’s Educational Improvement Scholarships Tax Credit. The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) gives tax credits when you donate to an approved scholarship foundation. The amount is 65% of the value that you donated. Unused credits can be carried forward for 5 years at a minimum of $325 each year.
Still wondering if private education is economical? Here are some ways to afford private school on a budget.
Charitable Contributions to a Private School
Any charitable contributions that you make can be deducted from your tax return. This means that if you make a charitable contribution to the private school that your child attends in addition to the tuition you pay, then you may be able to write off the donation amount.
Although you should consider that you can’t write off anything for which you’re given something in return.
For example, if the school holds a charitable dance and tickets are $10, then you can’t write $10 off since you are paying for entry. However, if you pay $100 for said ticket, you will probably be able to write off $90 since this amount was provided as a charitable donation.
Private school tuition can be expensive, but a charitable donation provides tax benefits. Consider this option as you provide an excellent education for your child and reduce your tax bill.
The Coverdell Education Savings Account
The Coverdell Education Savings Account is an account in which you can contribute part of your income. Use the money in a Coverdell Education Savings Account to pay for your child’s high school or elementary school education expenses.
Qualified expenses include:
- Other costs related to your child’s education
You can contribute up to $2,000 a year into a Coverdell Education Savings Account. Income limits apply, though. You can only contribute to a Coverdell Education Savings Account if you are single and make a modified adjusted gross income of less than $110,000 or if you are married, file a joint tax return, and make under $220,000.
The advantages of making contributions to this account are that all funds you deposit come out of your paycheck before they are taxed, money in your account accumulates interest tax-free, and you will not owe capital gains tax on the money you contribute or the accumulated interest.
It’s true that you can’t deduct Coverdell Education Savings Account contributions on your federal tax return. Fortunately, you could end up saving thousands of dollars in tax savings over the course of your child’s primary and secondary school education with this beneficial savings tool.
The 529 Savings Plan
Every state, including Virginia, sponsors a 529 Savings Plan. Also known as a qualified tuition plan, a 529 Savings Plan operates like an IRA, but the money in this account is used for education rather than retirement expenses.
Contribute up to $500,000 annually per child into one of three Virginia 529 Savings Plans. Then, you can use up to $10,000 a year to cover a portion of your child’s K-12 private school tuition. At this time, you can only use 529 Savings Plan money for tuition, not other educational-related expenses.
You won’t receive federal tax deductions for private school when you contribute to a 529 Savings Plan. You also must pay taxes on your contributions. All contributions and accumulated interest grow tax-free, and you can earn a $4,000 Virginia state tax deduction, which reduces your tax bill and can help you invest in your child.
The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit
If your child attends any sort of before-school or after-school program at a public or private school, you may qualify for the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit.
One requirement you must meet to qualify for this credit is that you and your spouse, if applicable, must look for work or be at work during the time your child attends the qualifying program.
The amount of the tax credit varies and is based on your adjusted gross income. In general, you can receive a credit of up to $3,000 in total work-related childcare expenses per child.
You can claim a percentage of the costs of summer camp as a tax credit as well if you’re working or looking for work during this time. However, to qualify, your child must be younger than 13 and thus unable to provide his or her own supervision. You’ll also need to separate the cost of the care program from the tuition cost.
Other Ways to Save Money on Private School
You won’t receive federal tax deductions for private school tuition at your child’s primary or secondary school, and there aren’t as many tax credits available for primary and secondary school education as there are for postsecondary education. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t other ways to save money.
For example, there are many scholarship opportunities for students looking to attend a private school.
Keep in mind that scholarships aren’t just given to children in need – many of these scholarships can be applied to by anyone. In addition to scholarships offered within the state, there are also many national scholarships worth a look.
Some of these scholarships include:
- The Commonwealth Foundation
- A Better Chance
- The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation
- The Children’s Scholarship Fund
If you’re planning on enrolling your child into a religious school, you may even be able to secure a small scholarship from your church.
Although you cannot get federal tax deductions for private school, there are a number of potential tax credits and deductions related to sending your child to a private school that could save you some money.
Is private school worth the cost? Read why the value of private education isn’t always measured by its expense.