Teachers and other educators should remember that they can deduct certain unreimbursed expenses such as classroom supplies, training, and travel — even when schools switched to hybrid or remote learning models during the pandemic last spring. Deducting these expenses helps reduce the amount of tax owed when filing a tax return.
To qualify for the deduction, the taxpayer must be a kindergarten through grade 12 teacher, instructor, counselor, principal, or aide. They must also work at least 900 hours a school year in a school that provides elementary or secondary education as determined under state law.
Teachers and other educators can also take advantage of various education tax benefits for ongoing educational pursuits such as the Lifetime Learning Credit or, in some instances, depending on their circumstances, the American Opportunity Tax Credit.
How the Educator Expense Deduction Works
Educators can deduct up to $250 of unreimbursed business expenses. If both spouses are eligible educators and file a joint return, they may deduct up to $500, but not more than $250 each. The educator expense deduction is available even if an educator doesn’t itemize their deductions. To take advantage of this deduction, the taxpayer must be a kindergarten through grade 12 teacher, instructor, counselor, principal, or aide for at least 900 hours during a school year in a school that provides elementary or secondary education as determined under state law.
Here are some of the expenses an educator can deduct:
- Professional development course fees
- Computer equipment, including related software and services
- Other equipment and materials used in the classroom
- Athletic supplies for courses in health or physical education.
Keep Good Records
Educators should keep detailed records of qualifying expenses noting the date, amount, and purpose of each purchase. This helps prevent a missed deduction at tax time. Taxpayers should also keep a copy of their tax return for at least three years. Copies of tax returns may be needed for many reasons. A tax transcript summarizes return information and includes adjusted gross income and available free of charge from the IRS.
Don’t hesitate to call if you have any questions about tax deductions available to educators, including teachers, administrators, and aides.