Teachers Can Still Save with the Educator Expense Deduction

One of several tax breaks extended by Congress last minute Fiscal Cliff activity on New Year’s Day is the Educator Expense Deduction. While most education tax breaks benefit those who pay to learn, the Educator Expense Deduction is for those who teach.

Elementary school classroom

How Much is the Educator Expense Deduction?

The maximum Educator Expense Deduction is $250 per individual.  In the event both spouses are educators and each spends at least $250 on qualified educator expenses, the maximum deduction on their joint return is $500.

What Expenses Qualify for the Educator Expense Deduction?

The IRS has determined that the following expenses qualify for the deduction:

  • supplies
  • computer equipment (including related software and services)
  • other equipment, and
  • supplementary materials that you use in the classroom

Keep in mind that health and physical education teachers who incur educator expenses must use them in athletic education to qualify for the deduction.  In addition, all expenses must be unreimbursed to be deductible (If you’re not out-of-pocket due to the expenditure, you didn’t really incur the expense).

Who Qualifies for the Educator Expense Deduction?

Not surprisingly, you must be an educator to be able to take the deduction.  This means you can be a teacher, instructor, an aid, or pretty much anyone who spends 900 hours or more per year in a elementary or secondary school.  Principals qualify too, but home school educators do not.

In addition, you must file either file a Form 1040 or a Form 1040A to deduct your educator expenses.  While some tax deductions require taxpayers to itemize in order to benefit, the Educator Expense Deduction does not. As a result, every taxpayer with the bona fide educator expenses described above will save money on their taxes.

TurboTax walks you through the appropriate tax questions to make sure you get this tax deduction if you’re eligible, so you can keep more of your hard-earned money.  If you still have questions, only TurboTax lets you talk to CPAs, IRS enrolled agents, or tax attorneys while you prepare your taxes, free.

Michael Rubin

Author of the bestseller Beyond Paycheck to Paycheck, and the upcoming The Savings Solution, Michael B. Rubin is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER professional. In addition to his experience providing sophisticated financial advice to affluent clients, Michael has been a key source of information for over a decade to countless others. He speaks passionately about and provides guidance on virtually all personal financial planning topics. Michael has appeared in various media, including radio and TV stations across the country, plus national media such as CNN Money.com, latimes.com, The Wall Street Journal, SmartMoney.com, Chicago Tribune, Financial Advisor Magazine, and Investment News. Prior to founding Total Candor LLC, Michael worked in the personal financial services practices of two of the former "Big Six" accounting firms. Subsequently working for several years as a new venture executive for Toys "R" Us, Inc., he made sure that he never actually grew up. He holds an undergraduate business degree from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Michael lives in New Hampshire with his wife and children.

Comments (3) Leave your comment

  1. Considering teachers spend an average $700 on classroom supplies and used to be able to deduct the whole thing before 2002, it’s a bit of a sick joke to say teachers can “save” with a deduction now limited to $250. The law limiting it to $250 was passed in 2002 by the GOP Congress when it drastically reduced taxes for the wealthy. The GOP STILL blocks any change for teachers even though they now need to spend so much to compensate for state budget cuts over the past 5 years.

    • Teachers are some of the finest people on this planet and diverse a lot more. If the Democrats feel this is wrong and really care to help the Teacher…. Then what have they been doing since 2002…. Dude really?

    • Teachers are some of the finest people on this planet and deserve a lot more. If the Democrats feel this is wrong and really care to help the Teacher…. Then what have they been doing since 2002…. Dude really?

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