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Tax write-offs for teachers

Dear Tax Talk,
Have any info on tax write-offs for full-time teachers? I'm an art teacher. I have student loans. Any write-offs there? -- Dan

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Dear Dan,
Full-time teachers have gotten a little help lately, but not anywhere near the amount they deserve. As a full-time teacher, you can claim an above-the-line deduction for up to $250 in out-of-pocket, classroom-related books, supplies and equipment, including software. You do not have to itemize your deductions in order to claim this expense since it is an above-the-line deduction, claimed on Line 23 of Form 1040. If you're married to another educator, you each can claim $250 for a combined $500 deduction.

Up to $2,500 in student-loan interest is also allowed as an above-the-line deduction, subject to income limitations. If you're single, your adjusted gross income has to be less than $65,000, and if you're married, less than $130,000 to claim the full $2,500 deduction. If you haven't been claiming this deduction, you may want to file an amended return for prior years. You do not have to be an educator to claim this deduction.

Aside from these deductions, you can also claim work-related expenses as an itemized deduction subject to reduction by 2 percent of your adjusted gross income. Examples of these deductions are union dues, work-related education, educator expenses in excess of the $250 limit discussed above, work-related travel such as driving between two schools or on field trips, and other unreimbursed employee expenses. Publication 529 gives additional examples of these expenses. (See page 3 of the publication.)

If you have Perkins loans, you may be able to get a portion or all of those loans forgiven since you are in the teaching profession. Check with the financial aid office at the school where you obtained your teaching degree to see if you may qualify for loan forgiveness.

Bankrate.com's corrections policy
-- Posted: June 22, 2005
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