Get Your Classroom Ready – Five Tax Savings Tips for Teachers Before The First Day of School

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Gosh, where has the summer gone? Just yesterday, it seems, school let out for the summer, and here we are going back to school. If the months continue to fly by like that, soon it will be the holidays, and tax time right after that. Speaking of which, this is a great time for teachers to plan ahead. Here are five tips to save you money on your taxes.

Deduct other professional expenses you incur for teaching. Many teachers belong to a union, and those dues are deductible as an unreimbursed employee business expense on your tax return. Other employee business expenses include the cost of professional books related to your teaching activities, or any other expenses that are directly related to teaching.

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. Though many teachers don’t qualify because they have space at school that they could use for business activities such as grading papers, if you tutor children in your home office or teach classes over the internet, those activities might qualify you for the deduction.

Keep track of mileage. Many teachers travel from school to school throughout the day, or coach a sport or lead after-school activities away from school. If so, track your mileage to and from the location for the activities. If you travel from place to place regularly, you’ll find the miles can really add up. You may be able to deduct 57.5 cents a mile for all business miles driven if you itemize your deductions.  You can also deduct your mileage for commuting to and from a class that maintains or improves your job skills.

Deduct continuing education expenses. If you take courses to keep up your competency, you may qualify for the Lifetime Learning Credit. This credit is 20% of tuition and fees for all college or vocational classes that you take, and it can be deducted from the taxes you owe on your tax return. During your lifetime, you can take a tax credit of up to $2,000, and you don’t have to itemize your deductions to claim this credit.

Take a deduction for classroom materials you buy. Although the Educator Expense Deduction expired on December 31, 2014 and is still waiting for a vote to be extended, you can still deduct some of what you spent on school supplies as an unreimbursed employee expense.   Typically the Educator Expense Deduction worth up to a $250 deduction for classroom supplies, materials, books, computer equipment, software, other equipment, and supplementary materials purchased by teachers has been extended in the past. Continue to check back with us to find out if you will be able to continue to reap the benefits of the Educator Expense Deduction in addition to deducting classroom supplies as an employee expense.

Don’t worry about knowing these tax deductions.  TurboTax will ask you simple questions about your life and give you the tax deductions you’re eligible for based on your entries.

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