Different types of student tax exemptions are available in different countries, and even within some countries, different states. The most common student tax exemptions relate to income taxes. People who earn below a certain monetary amount each year are usually exempt from paying national or state income taxes, and the majority of students fall within this category. Some countries, particularly the UK, specifically exempt students from income, housing, and other types of taxes. United States tax law offers a host of tuition deductions, credits, and other tax savings that can apply to students and their families but do not offer many student-specific exemptions.
Governments assess tax on a number of different things — property, land, sales, and exports, to name a few — but income is by far the biggest international source of taxation revenue. Most countries assess income tax on a sliding scale, where the rate of taxation is directly proportional to the amount of annual salary awarded. In most cases, individuals who make only small amounts of money are exempt from tax outright and may usually file for a tax refund if taxes have been already withheld from their pay. This is the most common of the student tax exemptions.
The United Kingdom allows students to file a special student exemption form to qualify for a waiver of UK income taxes. British students who work only over vacations automatically qualify. Students who work throughout the year are eligible for student tax exemptions in this category only if they make below the threshold amount for the relevant year.
Most countries in Europe have automatic student tax exemptions outside of income as well. The UK’s council tax is an example. The council tax is levied against all British subjects, unless they are students. Qualifying for student tax exemptions like this one usually requires only the filing of a student status form with the local taxation authority. One must rarely pay taxes as a student in the UK, at least not any that need to be filed with the national tax office.
In general, the US system requires that students be far more proactive than do the systems of the UK, Europe, and most other parts of the world. Students are not automatically eligible for student tax exemptions in the United States. The United States tax code, which is administered by the Internal Revenue Service, or IRS, is built on a series of deductions.
The government presumes that citizens owe a certain amount of tax, but citizens are allowed and even encouraged to file for various deductions and exceptions. Students whose income falls below the US’s threshold amount will usually qualify to have their taxes waived, but not not by virtue of their student status. Other student deductions may also apply.
Some of the most common student deductions for both federal and state tax purposes relate to tuition credits. In most cases, students and their families can take at least a partial deduction for qualifying tuition and other education-related expenses. Parents can usually also take a deduction for any full-time students that they are claiming as dependents. Once students graduate, may be able to take a tax credit — which is like a deduction — for interest paid on any student loans.