My wife is employed by a university. Up to a certain monetary amount, she can take classes with no financial or tax impact. (I believe this amount is set by the IRS but that's not at issue here.) Above that amount, the classes are still "free" -- i.e. no out-of-pocket expense -- but the money that she would have paid becomes imputed income.
She did take a number of graduate-level classes last year -- enough to push her into the imputed-income zone, I believe. No such income is called out on her W-2, but I don't know whether it ought to be or not. (She is recovering from a serious accident and does not remember.)
So my first question would be: if in fact there was imputed income related to the courses she took, should that be reported on her W-2?
My second and more important question is, would this qualify as an educational expense (for purposes of a deduction or educational credit)?
With respect to the second question, I can see an argument either way.
One point of view would be, this was an expense, but it was reimbursed so it doesn't qualify. (Although I don't see reimbursement as a criterion anywhere.)
The other point of view would be, the university technically paid her the money with one hand but then took it back with the other hand as payment for the courses. And the monies appear to have been treated as taxable income (not tax-free educational assistance) ... so it seems as though I ought to be able to claim the credit.
Update / Clarification:
One might wonder why I didn't just ask the university payroll department. In my experience, directing a question to that group frequently results in "opening a can of worms". So my goal here was to try to find out whether it would even be worth approaching them with this question.