From extra school supplies to cleaning supplies, teachers can spend several hundreds and even thousands of dollars each year on out-of-pocket expenses for their classrooms. Research indicates that teachers spend about $500 on average annually on school supplies. Another study notes that teachers have spent as much as $5,000 of their salaries in a year on school supplies. These figures are alarming, considering that the national average salary of a public school teacher in the United States was $58,353 during the 2015-2016 school year. However, there are opportunities to recoup some of these expenses in the form of tax credits and deductions. Here’s how one can benefit a teacher’s taxes:
The educator expense deduction allows eligible educators to deduct business or trade expenses from their tax return that were unreimbursed. To claim this deduction, teachers must work a minimum of 900 hours during the school year. You are considered a qualified educator if you have worked for any primary or secondary grade level (kindergarten through 12th grade) and work for a private or public school approved by your state.
As of 2017, teachers can deduct up to $250 of expenses. This amount doubles to a total of $500 if you are married and filing together with your spouse who is also a qualified educator. These expenses may include professional development programs, supplies, classroom supplementary materials, books, and computer, services, software and other equipment.
This tax deduction can be taken in the event you exclusively use a section in your home as your workplace. For example, if you teach online courses for a school but do not have a dedicated workspace at the school and use your home office instead, you may be eligible to take advantage of the home office deduction on your tax return.
Continuing education expenses are another area you can take advantage of on your tax return. The Lifetime Learning Credit allows you to claim up to $2,000 per year for continuing education and training expenses. This includes books, fees, and tuition. To get this credit, you have to attend an eligible school, be the qualified student and pay for qualified education expenses, such as equipment necessary for completing a course.
Teaching students doesn’t have to mean emptying your pockets to educate your class. When tax season rolls around, take advantage of the tax deductions and credits available. On a teacher’s taxes, you can recoup some of the money you spent during the school year.
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