Classroom

Educator Expense Deduction

For teachers and educators who invest in their students by putting supplies back into their classroom, the Educator Expense Deduction is designed for you. For educators that aim to improve their skills through classes or courses unpaid for by their employer, this unique deduction is also created for you.

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Devised as a way for academic administrators and teachers to deduct part of the costs of supplies, technologies, and even training, the Educator Expense Tax Deduction aims to offer teachers reductions in the tax they owe to help them be better teachers.

Interested in precisely what this special deduction can offer you as a teacher? Read on for more insight on the subject, and all the information you need to get started with saving a little extra cash on those yearly taxes.

What exactly is the Educator Expense Deduction?

As the name suggests, this specific deduction is provided by the Internal Revenue Service, or IRS, as a way to allow teachers to reduce the tax that they owe by as much as $250, based on their spending throughout the year.

This deduction is designed explicitly for qualified expenses from teachers that provide supplies to their classrooms out their own pockets, as well as offering technologies to their students that would otherwise be out of their employer’s budget. It also applies to teachers furthering their skills and education through courses or classes that are not paid for by their workplace.

Examples of eligible expenses for the Educator Expense Deduction that teachers can make use of includes:
  • Additional textbooks for learning
  • Classroom supplies such as pens, paper, and more specific tools like protractors or compasses
  • Technology for the purposes of enhancing learning
  • Software used in the classroom for teaching students
  • Classes or courses to further improve the educator’s knowledge as applied in the classroom
  • Classes or courses for specific professional development

Every teacher or educator that meets the specific criteria set out by the IRS can be eligible to deduct a maximum of $250 of qualified expenses from their overall income.

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Who can receive an Educator Expense Deduction?

To be eligible for utilizing the Educator Expense Deduction, teachers must meet specific criteria as defined by the IRS.

These requirements include:
  • Your role must be a classroom aide, counselor, principal, instructor or teacher
  • You must teach or work with students between the ages of kindergarten to grade 12
  • You must complete a total of 900 hours of educational work at least within the school year
  • You must be employed at a school providing education, either elementary or secondary, as defined under specific state laws

For educators that meet all of the above criteria, it is likely they will be eligible to receive the deduction. For example, a teacher working in a public school first-grade classroom for over 900 hours per school year would meet the specific needs set out by the guidelines. Also, less traditional educators, such as a guidance counselor investing in materials to work with their students, would be fully eligible for this deduction.

However, it is essential to note that based on these specifically required criteria, some educators will not be eligible for the Educator Expense Deduction. This includes those working within pre-school settings, as well as those working within any colleges, graduate school settings or any other form of higher education beyond grade 12. Parents and tutors homeschooling children in a non-traditional classroom setting or their own homes are also not eligible for this deduction, based on the criteria listed above.

In addition to eligibility for the Educator Expense Deduction, the IRS also outlines specific requirements for married couples, where both parties work in the education field – either in teaching or teaching-adjacent roles. For those filing taxes jointly with a fellow educator, their eligibility is increased to a total of $500; with no more than $250 in total per individual within the marriage.

How does the Educator Expense Deduction process work?

If you are eligible for Educator Expense Deduction, the verification process is relatively simple. The first stage for any teacher is to examine whether their in-classroom or training expenses qualify for a deduction, based on the criteria provided above. Educators should also consider if they are eligible based on the work they do, which can also be determined based on the information provided.

If you believe you’ve met at least the minimum requirements stated within the above criteria, then you can begin to examine the total of expenses over the past year, to discover exactly how much of a deduction you may be eligible for.

It’s important to note the following when you reach this stage:
  • Expenses cannot be deducted if they are reimbursed in any way, whether through your workplace or a grant or by any other means
  • Expenses may only be eligible for deduction if they exceed the tax-free withdrawals available with your Coverdell Education Savings Account, as well as any state-based tuition programs not reported as income
  • Expenses are also only eligible if they exceed the interest on any savings bonds that don’t require reporting if higher education expenses have been paid
  • For any tax year prior to 2018, any qualified expenses that are more than the Educator Expense limits can be deducted in itemized form instead of the new way

Once you’ve read through and understood all of the above, it’s time to make those deductions to help compensate, even just a little, for the expenses and costs you put into making your classroom better than ever. For teachers, it’s enough to see our students succeed as a result of our efforts; but a little extra money off our taxes doesn’t hurt either.

For more details about the full Education Expense Deduction process, check out IRS publication 529. All the information is there to allow you to complete your taxes effectively, and save as much as possible when it comes to the investment you put into your student’s education. With up to $250 available to help support teachers through the tax period, it’s well worth doing your research and getting those deductions right the first time.