Per Section 127 of the IRS code, employees who take graduate courses will not be taxed on the first $5,250 of tuition benefits received in a calendar year. The University will withhold all applicable taxes on graduate tuition benefits received in excess of this value. This tax-free provision does not apply to spouses or dependents taking graduate courses.
In limited situations, Graduate Tuition Remission benefits for employees may not be subject to taxation if they meet the requirements of a "working condition fringe benefit" under IRC Section 132(d). More details regarding these requirements and information about the tax implications associated with graduate-level On-Campus Tuition Remission can be found on Payroll's Graduate Tuition Remission website.
Estimation of Graduate Tax
The University is aware of the hardship these regulations impose and encourages faculty and staff to apply for tuition remission benefits before the deadline each semester to ensure the maximum period of time allowed to withhold taxes. If you, your spouse, and/or eligible dependents drop a graduate course, please notify the University Benefits office as soon as possible.
Note that if a class is added or dropped following registration, you will be subject to the same pro-rata tuition according to the guidelines published by OSA.
During the fall semester, your graduate tuition account will be reconciled and your withholding request adjusted, if necessary, in October. This option only applies to on-campus graduate tuition for self, spouse and/or dependents. Changes to this estimate will only be made if there is a change in student status (e.g., not enrolling in graduate courses as originally anticipated). Some employees may qualify to deduct certain educational expenses when filing their individual tax return. Affected employees are encouraged to consult a tax advisor regarding eligibility to invoke this deduction.
Things to Consider
- The current $5,250 tax free benefit, which applies to courses taken by the employee only, is based upon a calendar year.
- Graduate tuition remission, for an employee's eligible dependents, is considered to be taxable income from the first dollar.
- Increased taxes, if applicable, impact federal, state, Social Security, New York City and Yonkers tax levels.
- By providing a forecast of scheduled courses prior to January 15th, the increase in taxable gross can be distributed among as many pay periods as possible within the calendar year.
- It is recommended that an employee over-forecasts (rather than under-forecasts) for the calendar year, as tuition may increase at the beginning of the fall semester.
- The dollar amount of the tuition remission benefit will be included in the YTD taxable gross on the employee's W-2 form.