Back-to-School Tax Tips for Educators

Teachers often buy classroom supplies with their own money. The IRS provides some tax relief for educators when out-of-pocket expenses are not reimbursed. If you’re a K-12 teacher, instructor, counselor, principal, or aide and work for at least 900 hours during the school year, you’re eligible for the Educator Expense Tax Deduction. For reference, the 900-hour threshold breaks down to about 25 hours per week over a 36-week or 9-month school year.

Educators can deduct up to $300 of trade or business expenses that weren’t reimbursed. If two married educators are filing a joint return, the limit rises to $600. These taxpayers can’t deduct more than $300 each. This isn’t a free-for-all; you can’t just deduct anything. Here are some expenses that qualify:

  • Classroom supplies like markers, pencils, and paper
  • Books
  • Computer equipment and software
  • Professional development courses
  • COVID-19 protective items to stop the spread of the disease in the classroom
  • However, athletic supplies for physical education classes are generally not included.

Keep your receipts! You’ll need these for when you file your tax return. Additionally, In the unlikely event the IRS would question the deduction you’ll want to have these receipts available for an audit. So, keep a dedicated folder (either physical or digital) where you store all this information.

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