I am an international student studying in the US. Federal law requires that I am register for a one credit course in order to take a certain internship, the cost of which is close to $2000. This credit cannot be counted towards my degree requirements.

My employer does not wish to pay for the cost of this credit. Is it legal/ethical to ask them to deduct $2000 from my pay and give this to me as an reimbursement, so as to reduce the tax burden? After all, as I understand it, tuition waivers are not taxed (e.g. https://www.npr.org/2017/12/18/570941259/grad-students-tuition-waivers-will-remain-untaxed-after-all)


I don't think that the tuition waiver that you mentioned is relevant; I think that it refers to cases where you are employed by the institution that is charging tuition (or would, absent the waiver). However, you probably can apply this to your case:

You may be able to deduct qualified education expenses paid during the year for yourself, your spouse or your dependent. You cannot claim this deduction if your filing status is married filing separately or if another person can claim an exemption for you as a dependent on his or her tax return. The qualified expenses must be for higher education.

The Tuition and Fees Deduction can reduce the amount of your income subject to tax by up to $4,000. This deduction, reported on Form 8917, Tuition and Fees Deduction, is taken as an adjustment to income. This means you can claim this deduction even if you do not itemize deductions on Schedule A (Form 1040).

The link also provides information about other tax savings related to education. As you apparently have tuition expense other than this $2000, and likely will be above $4,000, you will have to look at your entire tax situation; the tax implications of this course cannot be determined in isolation.

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