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Business and Policy Areas
Business and Policy Areas

IRS Corrects Auditors’ Misinterpretation of 1098-T Requirements

November 21, 2011

The September 16 report of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration’s report entitled Billions of Dollars in Education Credits Appear to Be Erroneous, included a recommendation for the Internal Revenue Service to conduct audits of tax credits allegedly wrongfully claimed. IRS accordingly initiated audits of taxpayers--students and their families--to take a closer look at the education tax credits claimed.

Over the past few weeks, members alerted NACUBO that students under audit were receiving an IRS-generated letter directing them to obtain another Form 1098-T from the institution they attended, with Box 1 completed (payments received for qualified tuition and related expenses), rather than Box 2 (amounts billed for qualified tuition and related expenses). Some students also reported conversations in which IRS staff asserted that the institution had completed the 1098-T incorrectly by failing to report amounts paid and needed to redo it.

According to the final rules governing reporting requirements in §6050S(b)(2)(B)(i) of the Internal Revenue Code, institutions clearly have the option to either report payments received or amounts billed.

In an effort to prevent the further spread of confusion on this topic and to enhance the training of and communications made by IRS field examiners, NACUBO brought the misinterpretation of the rules to the attention of the national IRS office. We reported that universities in Minnesota, North Dakota, Utah, and California had fielded similar erroneous requests for amended 1098-Ts from students and families, at the direction of IRS examiners.

Within a few days, NACUBO received a response from the IRS apologizing about confusion resulting from the inaccurate IRS requests for information and was told that a clarification has been provided to IRS offices operating the automated underreporter program instructing them to stop asking for Forms 1098-T with Box 1 filled in, and an assurance that the problem has been corrected going forward.


Mary Bachinger
Director, Tax Policy