While the principal of a student loan isn’t tax deductible, the interest you pay on it can be — and that includes refinanced student loans. If you’re eligible, you may be able to deduct up to $2,500 from your taxable income.
The amount you can deduct is dependent on your income; as you earn more, the amount you can deduct is decreased and eventually eliminated. You also must have paid interest on a qualified student loan, one taken out to pay for qualified higher education expenses, such as tuition, books, or room and board.
Here’s what to know about refinanced student loans and tax returns, including when interest on student loans is tax deductible, how tax deductions differ from tax credits, and how refinancing can affect taxes.
What Is a Tax Deduction?
For starters, it’s helpful to review what a tax deduction is: A tax deduction lowers your taxable income by reducing the amount of your income before you or a tax professional calculates the tax you owe.
For example, a $100 exemption or deduction reduces your taxable income by $100. So it would reduce the taxes you owe by a maximum of $100 multiplied by your tax rate, which can range from 0% to 37%. So your deduction could reduce your taxes between $0 to $37.
And before considering how refinancing affects your taxes, it’s helpful to review what happens when you refinance a student loan: Your lender “swaps out” (or “pays off”) your existing loans and gives you a new loan with new terms. A student loan refinance may be beneficial if you get a lower interest rate and/or a lower repayment amount, which can save you money in the long run.
If you’re considering refinancing federal student loans, however, it’s important to understand that you would lose access to certain federal benefits and protections, such as Public Service Loan Forgiveness or federal deferment and forbearance.
The Difference Between a Tax Deduction and a Tax Credit
Keep in mind that a tax deduction is not the same as a tax credit. While a tax deduction reduces your taxable income, a tax credit directly reduces your taxes.
Tax credits give you a dollar-for-dollar reduction on your taxes. In other words, if you qualify for a $2,000 tax credit, the tax credit lowers your tax bill by that exact amount — $2,000.
Recommended: Tax Season 2022: A Guide to Understanding Your Taxes
How Does Paying Student Loans Affect Taxes?
If you paid qualified student loans during the year, you may be eligible for the student loan interest tax deduction. This deduction can reduce your taxable income by the amount of student loan interest you paid during the year — up to $2,500.
Note that the interest on student loans is tax deductible, not your total payment amount (which includes the principal). You can claim it without having to itemize deductions on your tax return because it’s taken as an adjustment to income. This means you can claim this deduction even if you do not itemize deductions on Form 1040.
Who Is Eligible for the Student Loan Interest Deduction?
The student loan interest deduction is an “above the line” deduction, which means that it is deducted to calculate your adjusted gross income (AGI).
As mentioned earlier, the interest paid must be for a qualified student loan that you take out for yourself, your spouse, or a dependent for qualified undergraduate or graduate education expenses, such as tuition, books, or room and board. In addition, the expenses must have been incurred within “a reasonable period of time” prior to or after taking out the loan, according to the IRS.
Recommended: How Income Tax Withholding Works
For taxable years beginning in 2022, your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) must also amount to less than $70,000 ($145,000 if filing a joint return). Your amount will be phased out (reduced) if your MAGI is between $70,000 and $85,000 ($140,000 and $170,000 if you file a joint return).
You cannot claim the deduction at all if your MAGI is $85,000 or more ($175,000 or more if you file a joint return). You also will not qualify for the deduction if you are married filing separately.
Are Refinanced Student Loans Tax Deductible?
Yes, you can get a tax deduction on the interest you’ve paid on refinanced or consolidated student loans as long as the new loan refinanced qualified student loans.
Recommended: Where Is My Tax Refund?
How does refinancing affect taxes? Refinancing your federal loans to a private loan may not have much of an impact on your taxes because it’s based on income. If you’re a high earner, you may not even qualify for a student loan interest deduction.
Refinancing may save you more money in the long run than a student loan interest deduction because it’s a deduction, not a tax credit. It’s important to do the math or consult a tax professional before you make a final decision.
It’s also worth taking a look at common eligibility requirements for a refinance. For most borrowers, the soonest you can refinance is usually after graduating. In addition to a degree, you often need to have:
• A debt-to-income (DTI) ratio under 50%: Your DTI refers to how much of your income goes toward debt and how much goes toward your regular income. It’s best to keep your DTI under 50%, but being over doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t qualify for a student loan refinance.
• Minimum credit score of 650: Your credit score is a three-digit number that shows how well you pay back debt. It’s best to have a minimum credit score of at least 650 to be eligible for student loan financing. Again, your personal situation will be considered before determining whether you qualify for a refinance.
• A steady job and/or consistent income: You may need to prove that you have a steady job and have enough savings to be able to pay for at least two months’ worth of regular expenses.
• A certain balance amount: In most cases, lenders will require you to have a certain minimum balance on your student loans in order to qualify for a refinance.
Refinancing Your Student Loans With SoFi
If you’re thinking about refinancing your student loans, SoFi offers flexible terms with fixed or variable rates. You can apply online, and there aren’t any fees.
What refinance costs are tax deductible?
When it comes to refinancing and taxes, lenders usually don’t charge any upfront fees to refinance your student loans, which means that there aren’t any refinance costs to deduct.
When you make payments on a qualified student loan — including refinanced student loans — you may be eligible for the student loan interest deduction.
Is it worth it to claim student loan interest?
Yes, when it comes to student loans and tax returns, you may be able to deduct up to $2,500 from your taxable income if you’re eligible.
To be able to claim the deduction, your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) must be less than $70,000 ($145,000 if filing a joint return). You’ll also experience a phased-out deduction if your MAGI is between $70,000 and $85,000 ($140,000 and $170,000 if you file a joint return).
The amount of deduction you can claim starts to phase out at MAGIs of $70,000 for individuals and $140,000 for those who file jointly. It disappears entirely at MAGIs above $85,000 and $170,000 for joint filers.
Are student loan payments tax deductible?
Only the interest you pay on your student loans is tax deductible. Whole student loan payments (which include principal) are not tax deductible.
SoFi Student Loan Refinance
IF YOU ARE LOOKING TO REFINANCE FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS PLEASE BE AWARE OF RECENT LEGISLATIVE CHANGES THAT HAVE SUSPENDED ALL FEDERAL STUDENT LOAN PAYMENTS AND WAIVED INTEREST CHARGES ON FEDERALLY HELD LOANS UNTIL SEPTEMBER 1, 2022 DUE TO COVID-19. PLEASE CAREFULLY CONSIDER THESE CHANGES BEFORE REFINANCING FEDERALLY HELD LOANS WITH SOFI, SINCE IN DOING SO YOU WILL NO LONGER QUALIFY FOR THE FEDERAL LOAN PAYMENT SUSPENSION, INTEREST WAIVER, OR ANY OTHER CURRENT OR FUTURE BENEFITS APPLICABLE TO FEDERAL LOANS. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.
Notice: SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income-Driven Repayment plans, including Income-Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi always recommends that you consult a qualified financial advisor to discuss what is best for your unique situation.
SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC), and by SoFi Lending Corp. NMLS #1121636 , a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law (License # 6054612) and by other states. For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.
Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.
Photo credit: iStock/Drazen Zigic