Back to School – Don’t miss this extra deduction for teachers

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Teachers have always been allowed a small extra deduction for the cost of classroom supplies. For the last 10 years, the amount has been capped at $250. Teachers were allowed the deduction for personally incurred costs related to classroom supplies like books, materials, computer supplies or COVID protection supplies.

The maximum deduction finally will be raised to $300 starting with 2022 tax returns. In cases where both spouses on a married filing joint return are educators, the maximum doubles to $600, with the $300 limit still applying to each.

Educators can claim the deduction in addition to the standard deduction they may otherwise claim on their return. Teachers must be in a kindergarten through the 12th-grade classroom to qualify and must be a teacher, instructor, counselor or aide for at least 900 hours during the school year to be eligible. The deduction applies to teachers in both public and private schools.

Included in the qualifying costs are also professional development costs for educators. If the lifetime learning or other college tuition credits apply, they may provide a greater benefit. But if neither education credit is applicable, the costs of professional development can still be captured here.

After a decade of not increasing this benefit, it is expected that the deduction will continue to rise by $50 per year moving forward to account for rises in inflation. A small win for educators in our country but a win nonetheless as many of them already struggle with minimal salaries and tight school budgets suppressing their ability to bring necessary supplies into their classrooms.

Be sure to ask any clients who may be teachers about their personally paid for classroom items and professional development expenses. Like all deductions, taxpayers are responsible for keeping records, including receipts to support the amounts they paid.

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