||Ask the Dollar Diva
Can I deduct private school
Dear Dollar Diva,
My son was recently diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity
Disorder (ADHD) and Central Auditory Processing Deficit (CAPD).
We plan to put him in a private school that deals with these types
of problems. Is there any tax relief for the cost of tuition?
Your son was dealt a double whammy; he's lucky to
have a parent like you to help him play the lousy hand. As far as
tax relief goes for the private school, it depends on the school's
If it's a special school with a curriculum designed
to help severely handicapped children overcome or compensate for
their disabilities, tuition is deductible. The handicap can be mental
or physical, including neurological disorders, and a doctor must
recommend that the child attend the school. To qualify as a special
school, the primary focus of the school has to be teaching the child
how to deal with his handicap; understanding Shakespeare's sonnets
or why heat rises is secondary.
If your son's school does qualify as a special school,
meals, lodging and ordinary education costs are deductible as medical
If it doesn't qualify, but you have to pay extra for
tutoring by a teacher who is specially trained and qualified to
work with ADHD or CAPD children, the tutoring fees would be deductible.
If you take a deduction for this kind of medical expense,
make sure you get a note from your doctor recommending the special
treatment and stating why your son needs it. Keep it with your tax
records so you'll be able to support your position if you get audited.
For more details on medical deductions, read the IRS
502, Medical and Dental Expenses.
How do I get the deduction?
You take the deduction on Schedule
A, Itemized deductions. To be deductible, medical and dental
expenses have to be more than seven and a half percent of your adjusted
gross income. For example, if your AGI is $80,000, the first $6,000
in medical and dental expenses is on you.
If you're married, and medical expenses are enormous
because of a special school, drug treatment center, or other expensive
treatment, consider the filing status of "married filing separate
return" instead of the customary "married filing joint return."
Draft the Form
1040, U.S. Individual tax return, both ways, and file the one
that gives you the smallest tax liability.
-- Posted: Aug. 3, 2000