JANUARY 9, 2010
Nurse Outduels IRS Over M.B.A. Tuition
How One Woman Went to Tax Court and Won Deduction
By LAURA SAUNDERS
Wall Street Journal
A Maryland nurse accomplished two rare feats in her battle with the Internal Revenue Service: She defended herself against the agency's lawyers and won, and she got a ruling that could help tens of thousands of students deduct the cost of an M.B.A. degree on their taxes.
The U.S. Tax Court handed Lori Singleton-Clarke her victory last month, saying the 47-year-old Bryantown, Md., woman had properly deducted nearly $15,000 in business school tuition. The Tax Court ruling should make it easier for many other professionals to deduct the expense of a Master in Business Administration degree.
The IRS's rules on deducting work-related tuition are complicated and onerous, ultimately preventing most students from deducting their tuition. But this case clarifies the rules and will likely lead to more taxpayers taking the deduction, tax experts say.
Few taxpayers decide to go toe to toe with the IRS as Ms. Singleton-Clarke did, arguing her case without a lawyer. For good reason: In 2009, individuals won only about 10% of about 300 such cases, according to data from Tax Analysts. Ms. Singleton-Clarke fought her case in Tax Court, a venue where taxpayers don't have to pay the contested tax before going to trial...