A teacher’s guide to the educator expense deduction
Classroom decorations, books, supplemental learning materials, party supplies and occasional sweet treats are common classroom expenses for K-12 instructors. Do you have to front the costs of these expenses? A lot of times, yes.
But there’s also a teacher tax deduction available to help offset these expenses. Let’s cover the basics on educator expense deductions here so you can maximize your tax deductions as a teacher.
What’s the educator expense tax deduction?
Eligible instructors can qualify for an educator expense tax deduction of up to $300 for tax year 2022. It extends up to $600 if an educator is married to another eligible educator and filing under the status married filing jointly (up to $3000 per person combined).
Common teacher classroom supplies that fit the tax deduction include:
- Books and educational textbooks
- Computer equipment, software, and cloud services
- Industry-specific equipment
- Instructional supplies (like pens, paper, craft goods, etc.)
- Professional development courses related to curriculum or students
- Supplementary materials used in the classroom
Who’s eligible for teacher tax deductions?
Before assessing which teaching supplies fall under the educator expense deduction umbrella, you must first verify if you are what the IRS acknowledges as an “eligible educator.”
An “eligible educator” describes anyone in the following roles for kindergarten through 12th-grade students:
- Classroom instructor
- School counselor
- School principal
- Classroom aide
In addition to the roles listed above, you must spend at least 900 hours within an academic year providing elementary or secondary education as specified under your state’s law.
Unfortunately, the educator expense deduction doesn’t apply to homeschooling instructors, or any college professor or instructor in post-secondary learning environments.
Other limitations of the educator expense deduction
There are a few additional limitations to the educator expense you should be mindful of. In fact, the deduction could be lowered due to a number of factors:
- You should subtract tax-advantaged funds used for your own personal schooling or professional development courses, such as a Coverdell education savings account from your deduction.
- The deduction is limited to the sum of your teaching expenses that is greater than the interest earned on Series EE or U.S. savings bonds if you’ve excluded this interest from your taxable income because it was used to pay for qualified higher education expenses.
Where to claim the educator expense deduction
If you have determined you’re eligible to claim the educator expense deduction, do so on one of the following tax forms:
- Form 1040 (The standard federal tax return), Schedule 1
- Form 1040-SR (The federal tax return for seniors), Schedule 1
- Form 1040-NR (The federal tax return for expat teachers)
Help with tax breaks for teachers–and other deductions
Claiming tax deductions can get complicated. If you need help, we’re here for you. If you have other questions about tax breaks for teachers—such deductible 403(b) Plan contributions —find out how you can work with one of our tax pros! With many ways to file your taxes, Block has your back.
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