TAX TIP No. 35
A tax-deduction apple for teachers
takes a toll on many educators'
pocketbooks as they routinely
buy supplies for their financially
strapped schools. Over the
past few years, they've enjoyed
a tax break for such academic
Teachers and other educators can deduct
up to $250 that they spent last year to buy classroom
Even better, the deduction is claimed
directly on Form 1040, meaning there's
no need to itemize to get the break. Rather, it's an adjustment
to your income, helping cut your tax bill by reducing
your overall income. The less income to tax, the lower
the tax bill.
While every little bit helps, the educator expenses deduction is indeed relatively small. But because it's an adjustment to income and doesn't require itemizing expenses, more school employees should now be able to claim at least a portion of their class-related expenditures.
Before this above-the-line deduction was created, these costs could be claimed only if they were included as miscellaneous itemized deductions on
Schedule A. Even then, the expenses were useless unless
they and all other allowable costs totaled at least
2 percent of the filer's adjusted gross income.
Who can claim costs?
The deduction is not limited
to teachers. The Internal
Revenue Service says you can
take the deduction if, for
the tax year, you were employed
at a state-approved public
or private school system and
held one of a number of positions.
|Who can take deduction
Your position can be with any class from
kindergarten through grade 12 as long as you work at
least 900 hours during the school year.
Couples who share education careers could
get a double break if they file jointly. However, each
spouse is limited to $250 of qualified expenses. That
means if you spent $350 on school supplies and your
husband spend $150 on his classroom, you can only deduct
$400 on your return even though your combined education
expenses were $500.
What about home schooling? Sorry, but
the tax law specifically states that costs for this
type of instruction don't count toward the educator expenses
What items are deductible?
As for exactly what you can deduct, the guidelines are
pretty broad. You can count unreimbursed costs for books,
supplies, computer equipment (including software and
services) and other equipment and supplementary materials
used in the classroom.