WASHINGTON — The American Council on Education has asked Congress  to renew expiring education tax credits past the end of 2012 after some provisions were excluded from a bipartisan bill extending tax credits that expired this year. The American Opportunity Tax Credit, as well as the student loan interest deduction and tax breaks for employer-provided education benefits, are set to expire at the end of 2012, and all were left out of a bill extending other tax breaks for higher education. The American Opportunity Tax Credit, a benefit originally included in the economic stimulus bill that provides up to $2,500 in partially refundable tax credits for tuition, appears to be the most at risk, with some Republicans in both the House and Senate opposing its expansion.
The tax credit is likely to figure in an end-of-year battle over taxes and spending as the prospect of sequestration, or mandatory spending cuts, looms and the Bush-era tax cuts are scheduled to expire. "It is essential that these tax provisions be extended this year to help make higher education accessible for millions of Americans and to ensure our nation will have the educated citizenry the future requires," Terry Hartle, senior vice president for government and public affairs at the council, wrote in a letter co-signed by 11 higher education associations.