It’s almost time for the start of the new school year, and teachers and other educators should know that they can still deduct certain unreimbursed expenses. Deducting expenses such as classroom supplies, training, and travel helps reduce the amount of tax owed when filing a tax return. Teachers and educators should keep in mind, however, that the deduction can only be claimed for expenses that weren’t reimbursed by their employer, a grant or other source.
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 $300 of unreimbursed business expenses in 2022. If both spouses are eligible educators and file a joint return, they may deduct up to $600 but not more than $300 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.
Those who qualify can deduct costs of books, supplies, computer equipment and software, classroom equipment, and supplementary materials used in the classroom, as well as COVID-19 protective items to stop the spread of the disease in the classroom. Expenses for participation in professional development courses are also deductible and athletic supplies qualify if used for courses in health or physical education.
Keep Good Records
Educators should keep receipts for qualifying expenses noting the date, amount, and purpose of each purchase. This will help prevent a missed deduction at tax time. Taxpayers should keep a copy of their tax returns 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 is available free of charge from the IRS.