What Is IRS Form 1098-E?

Tax Form 1098-E Explained

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IRS Form 1098-E is a tax form you get from the lender if you paid $600 or more in interest on your student loans during the tax year.

What Is Tax Form 1098-E?

Tax Form 1098-E records the amount of interest you paid on your student loan and could represent a tax deduction. If you qualify, you can deduct the interest paid from your overall gross income, thereby lowering the amount of federal income tax you owe. This is not the same as Tax Form 1098-T, which records tuition payments for the year. You may receive more than one Tax Form 1098-E depending on how many active loans you have.

  • Alternate name: Student Loan Interest Statement
Form1098e 2021 example

Who Uses Form 1098-E?

Lending institutions submit this form to the IRS and send a copy to anyone who has student loans with $600 or more in interest paid on them during the tax year. Otherwise, lenders aren’t required to send you or the IRS a copy of this form.

This $600 threshold isn’t per loan. It’s an aggregate limit for all student loans you might have with that particular lender. For example, you might have paid $400 in interest on one loan and $205 on another. You should receive at least one Form 1098-E from that lender because the total is more than $600. And you might receive two forms, one for each loan, even though individually they don’t meet the threshold requirement.

Technically, a “loan servicer” is supposed to send out Forms 1098-E. Some lenders act as their own servicers, managing their loans, while others contract with separate companies to do so. In this case, it’s the contracted company that’s responsible.

You should receive these forms by the end of January if you’ve paid enough interest to warrant one or more. You might receive them through the U.S. Postal Service or electronically. Both methods are acceptable with the IRS.  

What If You Don’t Receive a Form 1098-E?

If you qualify, you can still report the interest and receive tax credit for it if you paid less than $600. The threshold just means the institution doesn’t have to bother sending you the tax form. You can find out exactly how much you paid the institution by contacting your loan servicer if you don’t receive a form. Ask for the information in writing so you have a tangible record of it to support your tax return.

You can contact the National Student Loan Data Center at 800-999-8219 if you’re not sure who your loan servicer is, or email NSLDS@ed.gov.

The information on Form 1098-E applies to the student loan interest deduction. Many taxpayers with student loans can claim this deduction, but a few qualifying rules apply.

Not all student loans qualify for this deduction, and not all will result in you receiving Form 1098-E. Interest on loans acquired through a qualified employer plan or a contract purchased under a qualified employer plan does not require a form.

To qualify for the deduction, the loan must be in your name, although it can pay for your education personally or for that of your spouse or one or more of your dependents. Income limits apply as well—if you earn too much, the amount of your deduction will begin reducing until, finally, it hits zero. These limits are based on your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI), not your gross overall income. They break down like this in 2020:

  • Phaseout begins at $70,000 for single, head of household, and qualifying widow(er) filers.
  • Phaseout begins at $140,000 for married taxpayers filing joint returns.
  • The deduction is eliminated at $85,000 for single, head of household, and qualifying widow(er) filers.
  • The deduction is eliminated at $170,000 for married taxpayers filing joint returns.

These thresholds are adjusted for inflation so they may go up a bit each year. You can’t claim the student loan interest deduction if you’re married but file a separate return, or if you can be claimed as a dependent by someone else.

If you qualify, you don’t have to itemize to claim the student loan interest deduction because it is officially an "adjustment to income."

How to Read Form Tax Form 1098-E

Form 1098-E is pretty straightforward. The total amount of interest you paid during the year will appear in Box 1. That’s the number you’ll use to calculate the amount of your deduction, at least in most cases. It includes payments made through 5 p.m. on Dec. 31 of the tax year. It does not include any principal you paid, which is not tax deductible.

If you see a checkmark in Box 2, this indicates that the amount in Box 1 does not include capitalized interest or loan origination fees. These extra charges are deductible, but only if associated with a loan taken out before Sept. 1, 2004.

You can take a deduction up to $2,500 or total interest paid, whichever is less. Enter the deduction on line 20 of Schedule 1 of the Form 1040. Form 1040 changed significantly in 2018 and again in tax year 2020.Tax returns for years before 2018 do not include Schedule 1. Use line 33 directly on Form 1040—not on Schedule 1—if you’re claiming the deduction for the tax year 2017 or earlier.

Key Takeaways

  • Form 1098-E is issued by lenders to report student loan interest paid.
  • Don't expect a form if the total interest is less than $600.
  • Up to $2,500 in interest can be deducted if you meet income requirements.
  • Not all loans qualify.