5 Tax Breaks for Teachers on World Teachers’ Day

Tax Deductions and Credits Smiling teacher kneeling beside elementary school pupil’s desk

Happy World Teachers’ Day! While our little girl is enjoying her first big school break (she’s in year-round), many families are just starting their school year. Plenty of teachers are back to work, giving their best to their students and schools. We have several relatives who are teachers, counselors, and school support staff. Each of them works hard to make sure their kids are getting the best from them.

While teaching is a very noble profession, it can sometimes it can be difficult and, at times, financially draining. However, the good news is that there are some tax benefits teachers may qualify for. For all the teachers out there, here a few that can lighten your financial load.

Educator Expense Deduction

It’s common for many teachers to pay out of their pocket for a portion of their classroom supplies, and purchases here and there throughout the year can quickly add up. However, you may be able to deduct some of these expenses!

The educator expense deduction allows you to deduct up to $250 in unreimbursed classroom expenses. If you and your spouse are both teachers and are filing jointly, you can deduct $500 (but not more than $250 for each of you). To qualify, you have to:

  • Be a K-12 teacher, counselor, principal, or aide.
  • Work a minimum of 900 hours at a state-certified school.

Make sure you keep all of your receipts (better yet, scan them and have a digital copy!) so you can deduct the correct amount when it’s time to file taxes.

Lifetime Learning Credit & Union Dues

If you’re taking classes, you may also get to take advantage of the Lifetime Learning Credit for your tuition, books, and necessary equipment. If you qualify you can claim up to $2,000 per tax return.

If you pay union dues unions, you do not get to deduct them through the educator expense deduction. However, you may be able to include them as a miscellaneous itemized deduction on your taxes.

Credit for Volunteering?

Most teachers I’ve met have extremely giving hearts, and it’s not uncommon to see them spend extra time helping out their students and around the school. If you’re a teacher, I bet you’re wondering, can I get some tax benefits for this volunteer work? It depends, the IRS has specific guidelines. Is the charitable organization you’re volunteering for qualified and recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) exempt organization? If so, you may be able to deduct:

  • Transportation/Travel: Keep meticulous track of your travel expenses driving back and forth to where you’re volunteering or you can use the 14 cents/mile allowed by the IRS. If you have to pay for parking and it’s related to your work, then you can deduct it. TurboTax ItsDeductible will help you track your mileage while traveling to volunteer year-round and the information can transfer to your tax return at tax-time
  • Uniforms: If you are required to wear a uniform, you may be able to deduct the purchase. Please note, though, it can not be something you can wear every day such as a t-shirt with a logo.
  • Supplies: Providing supplies? You may be able to claim them (provided they are only for that organization).

Home Office Deduction

If you use your home office exclusively for your education work and you don’t have a space reserved at your school for administration work (like grading papers), you may be able to take the home office deduction. While most teachers won’t qualify, certain specialists may be able to use this tax break.

Thoughts on Tax Breaks for Teachers

There’s so much teacher’s do both inside and outside the classroom. I hope these tax breaks make things a bit easier when it’s time to file. Don’t worry about knowing these tax breaks. TurboTax will ask you simple questions and give you the tax deductions and credits you are eligible for based on your entries.

I’d love to hear from you! How long have you been teaching?

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