Known as the educator expense deduction, this tax break can save teachers a lot of money at filing time. It is an above-the-line adjustment to income, which means you don’t have to itemize your deductions to take advantage of it. The IRS also doesn’t limit the amount you can deduct from your taxes, unlike some other tax breaks. The educator expense deduction is available to anyone who works as a teacher, aide, instructor, counselor or principal in a school that provides elementary or secondary education and meets certain other requirements. That includes educators at public, private, and religious schools. It doesn’t include homeschooling parents or college professors who work at post-secondary educational institutions.
For the [year[ tax year, teachers can deduct up to $300 in qualifying classroom expenses. That’s $50 more than the amount they could claim in 2021. The IRS says the increase is due to inflation and other adjustments in the tax code. Educator Expense Deduction is an above-the-line tax break, which means you don’t need to itemize your deductions on Schedule A. This gives it a big advantage over other miscellaneous itemized deductions, which are only allowed to reduce your adjusted gross income (AGI) by up to 2 percent of your AGI.
How to Qualify for the Educator Expense Deduction?
In order to qualify for the educator expense deduction, your expenses must be ordinary and necessary for your teaching profession. This includes things like books, supplies, and supplemental materials. It also applies to computer software, services, and equipment, including peripherals. For professional development courses, the costs must be directly related to your teaching and curriculum. Courses on general education are not eligible. Also, you can’t claim expenses for personal use, like gym shoes or athletic clothing, even if you teach health or physical education.
In order to claim educator expense deduction, teachers must meet the following qualifications:
- They must be employed as a kindergarten through twelfth-grade teacher, instructor, counselor, principal, or aide in a public or non-public school.
- They must work at least 900 hours during the taxable year. This is the same requirement for the K-12 Instructional Materials and Supplies credit.
- Additionally, they must not have been reimbursed for the expense by their employer or by a private source. The educator expense deduction does not apply to homeschooling parents or to students attending college or graduate school.
Finally, the Educator Expense Deduction only applies to the taxable year in which it is claimed. Therefore, educators must keep records of all eligible educator expenses for the entire year. Teachers should file their tax returns with the IRS by April 15.