Thank goodness for teachers! If you are a teacher, you might have your thoughts more on what you will do during your well-deserved vacation than on taxes, but saving on taxes is really a year-round project. So before you close the books and lock your classroom door for the summer, here are five things you should know.
- Keep receipts for classroom materials you buy. The classroom budget is never enough, so this summer, as you begin to acquire supplies you’ll need for the upcoming school year, keep track of the receipts for things such as classroom supplies, materials, books, computer equipment, software, other equipment, and supplementary materials that you pay from your own pocket since Congress permanently passed the Educator Expense Deduction. You may be able to deduct up to $250 for money you spent for supplies and materials you purchased to keep your students on top of their “A” game. This tax benefit is going to allow you to keep more money in your pocket.
- Keep track of mileage. Many teachers have duties that extend far beyond the classroom. You may coach a sport or lead after-school activities away from your school, do home schooling or regularly call on students, or drive from school to school. No matter the activity, the miles can really add up. You can deduct 53.5 cents a mile for business miles driven in 2017 if you itemize your deductions.
- Deduct other expenses you incur for teaching. If you pay union dues, buy professional books related to your teaching activities, or have any other expenses that are directly related to teaching, keep track of them so you can claim them as an employee business expense on your tax return.
- Don’t forget continuing education expenses. If you take college or vocational classes, the Lifetime Learning Credit allows you to take a tax credit of 20% of tuition and fees. The tax credit is worth up to $2,000 per tax return, and you don’t have to itemize your deductions to claim this credit. Or you can claim an itemized deduction for the expenses you pay for your work-related education, if it is needed to maintain or improve your job skills or your employer requires you to obtain the education to keep your job.
- Claim a home office deduction if you qualify. If a portion of your home is used regularly and exclusively for activities in connection with your teaching, you may be able to take a home office deduction if your home office is for the convenience of your employer. Many teachers won’t qualify if they have space at school that they could use for business activities such as grading papers. Others don’t pass the test because they don’t have a specific place in their home that is used exclusively for business activities. If you tutor children in your home office or do classes over the internet, those activities might qualify you for the tax deduction.