March 6, 2024

Parents—Save Those Receipts! Information on K-12 Tax Credits

By Madie Spartz

Last year, Minnesota made major investments in children and families—both within the school walls and outside of them. There were a few significant changes within the tax bill. The biggest was the creation of a Child Tax Credit that will directly support low and middle-income families. Less talked about was a significant expansion of the K-12 Education Credit, making moderate income families eligible (previously, families earning more than $33,500 had to take a subtraction rather than a credit), and expanding the credit to cover up to $1,500 of eligible expenses to support and supplement a student’s education.

How Does the K-12 Education Credit Help Students?

For most families, providing the supports needed to ensure a well-rounded education comes at a cost. Whether for basic supplies, afterschool enrichment, driver’s education, tutoring, or other technology, families can spend hundreds or even thousands over the course of a year—and without outside support, this can put lower-income families at a disadvantage. The K-12 Education Credit—and its companion K-12 Education Subtraction—supports families to meet these needs.  

Families can qualify for tax relief simply by keeping track of their child’s education expenses and filing for a credit at tax time. The K-12 tax credit and subtraction program covers children in kindergarten through twelfth grade. Both programs can help lower a family’s taxes or provide a bigger refund.  Qualifying expenses include:

  • School supplies like pencils, notebooks, and calculators
  • Computer hardware and software used for educational purposes (up to $200)
  • Tutoring services for K-12 curriculum taught by a qualified instructor
  • Enrichment programs with a focus on academics or the arts
  • Rental or purchase of musical instruments used during school
  • Driver’s education expenses

To qualify for the credit or the subtraction, you must have a child in public, private, or home school in grades kindergarten through twelve. Families of all income levels quality for the subtraction—which helps reduces total tax owed—but the tax credit, which provides a larger, refundable benefit, does have income limits:

K-12 Education Credit Income Limits
Number of ChildrenAdjusted gross income must be less than
1 or 2$76,000
More than 3$79,000 plus $3,000 for each additional child
How Can Families Learn More?

The bottom line is: all Minnesota families can qualify for a tax break for certain education expenses. The key is to save your receipts and be ready to enter those expenses when you file your taxes. Most tax professionals and online preparation tools can take care of the technical details from there. 

That said, the Minnesota Department of Revenue provides many resources to walk through questions around eligibility. You can also learn more in our recent podcast with Rep. Matt Norris, who has been a champion for the K-12 Education Credit. He explores how the program works, and recent improvements to make it more meaningful for families—in addition to sharing background about the Minnesota Afterschool Advance program that helps families access tax credit funds upfront rather than waiting for tax time.

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