IRS Explains Educator Expense Deduction

The Internal Revenue Service has long allowed educators to deduct part of the cost of supplies and other expenses from their taxes. The total deduction allowed may not sound like much, but educators all over the U.S. have come to depend on this tax break for a little relief.

The deduction is available for teachers, instructors, counselors, principals, or aides who work at least 900 hours per year in a school that provides elementary or secondary education under state law. Qualified taxpayers must be engaged in providing education services in grades kindergarten through 12th grade.

Further, qualified educators can “deduct part of the cost of technology, supplies, and training from their taxes … [if the] expenses were not reimbursed by their employer, a grant, or other source.”

How does the educator expense duction work?

Qualified educators are able to deduct trade or business expenses that were not reimbursed, up to a cap of $250.

If a couple are both qualified educators and their filing status is married filing jointly, the total deduction cap rises to $500. However, each spouse in this case is still limited to a deduction of $250.

Expenses are limited to those paid during the tax year being filed and should be typical and regular expenses for someone in that profession.

The IRS says the kinds of expenses that qualify for the deduction include:

  • Professional development course fees
  • Books
  • Supplies
  • Computer equipment, including related software and services
  • Other equipment and materials used in the classroom
  • Personal protective equipment, disinfectant, and other supplies used for the prevention of the spread of coronavirus

For more information on the deduction for expenses of an eligible educator, see the Instructions for Form 1040 and Form 1040-SR or the Instructions for Form 1040-NR and Revenue Procedure 2021-15.

Additional help is available from Topic Number 458, Educator Expense Deduction, and Publication 5349, Tax Planning is for Everyone.

Sources: A tip for teachers: Some educator expenses may be tax deductible;

Topic No. 458 Educator Expense Deduction

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