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I need to find out if I previously claimed the Hope credit.

I went to the irs...
I need to find out if I previously claimed the Hope credit. I went to the irs website and created an account and could only see tax information back to 2008. I've taken the American Opportunity Credit three times, and I don't want to take it again if I already took the Hope Credit and the only time I was in school was 1998 and 1999, but I am not sure how to find out if I took it then or not. I do not have copies of those returns.
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Answered in 27 minutes by:
3/10/2018
James Daloisio
James Daloisio, Tax Attorney
Category: Tax
Satisfied Customers: 339
Experience: 24 years of continuing education and experience.
Verified

Hi, my name is ***** ***** welcome to Just Answer.

The answer to your question is, you can't. The IRS won't have your returns from 20 years ago. Neither would a commercial preparer. If you don't have copies, and believe me no one is going to fault you for not keeping your tax returns for 20 years, then you have to do your best.

If you do not have a recollection of claiming the credit four times, then you have a good faith basis for claiming it this year.

If you believe you've used the Hope/AOTC four times, then use one of the alternatives:

You still have the Lifetime Learning Credit, and the Tuition and Fees deduction available to you.

Keeping in mind that I have absolutely no idea what your tax return looks like, but let me mention that the tuition and fees deduction is taken as an adjustment to income; it reduces your "adjusted gross income." This could be particularly helpful if there are other items on your tax return that are subject to AGI thresholds such as employee business expenses, itemized deductions, etc., and you are near the phase out limit. Not something that happens to everyone but just be aware of it.

The IRS assesses each case independently. If they find you had reasonable cause and a good faith intention to comply with the tax laws you will not be subject any penalties. Here's what the Treasury Regulation (26 CFR 1.6664-4) says: Generally, the most important factor is the extent of the taxpayer's effort to assess the taxpayer's proper tax liability."

I "Hope" that answered your question. If so, please don't forget to rate this answer. You can always return here with follow up questions on this topic at no additional charge. Thank you for using Just Answer.

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Thank you very much. Do you think if I call the IRS, they would have the information?

No. They do not retain tax information for more than six prior return periods, except in cases where its needed for examination or litigation purposes. Your returns, not having been the subject of collections, are now way outside the statute of limitations for any enforcement action and there is no reason the IRS would have retained them.

What you might consider doing is calling them, recording the ID number of the person who takes your call, and then telling that individual that you are attempting to obtain information from prior tax returns from 1998-2007. Also make sure you record the date and time of the call. That way you will have established your due diligence to support your reasonable cause/good faith argument.

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In the event that you even ever need to make that argument, which I sincerely doubt.

James Daloisio
James Daloisio, Tax Attorney
Category: Tax
Satisfied Customers: 339
Experience: 24 years of continuing education and experience.
Verified
James Daloisio and 87 other Tax Specialists are ready to help you
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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Ok. Thank you very much
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James Daloisio
James Daloisio
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