Top 7 Tax Deductions For Teachers and Educators

Learn about common tax write-offs for teachers and educators that are available to be claimed on income tax returns.

Tax Write Offs for Teachers

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#1 – Classroom Supplies Deduction (books, pencils, crayons, computer equipment and software, etc.)

Generally, teachers are able to deduct up to $250 for unreimbursed classroom-related expenses each year ($500 if two educators are married and filing a joint return, but not more than $250 each). Expenses must be ordinary and necessary, although it does not have to be required.  Ordinary means that an expense is common and generally accepted in the educational profession. Necessary means that it is helpful and appropriate in the profession as an educator.  Teachers who spend more than $250 may be able to deduct additional amounts, see How to Claim Teacher Tax Deductions on Tax Returns for more detail.

#2 – Continuing Education Tax Credit

Teachers and educators may qualify for an up to $2,000 tax credit for unreimbursed courses taken to improve education-related skills.  The credit, known as the Lifetime Learning Credit, is for 20% of the cost of the course(s) taken up to $2,000 per educator per year.

#3 – Student Loan Interest Deduction & Loan Forgiveness

Teachers may be able to deduct up to $2,500 each year in interest payments made towards the repayment of qualified student loans.  Even better, teachers should check with their lenders to determine if they are eligible for loan forgiveness or cancellation which could result in additional tax savings.

 #4 – Teacher Union Dues Tax Deduction

Teachers participating in unions (such as the North Carolina Association of Educators) are eligible to deduct union dues on which tax has been paid (or deducted from a paycheck on a post-tax basis).

#5 – Professional Books and Publications Tax Deduction

Books and publications purchased by educators to support their professional development are tax-deductible expenses.

#6 – Charitable Donations Deduction

Teachers may be able to deduct amounts as charitable donations for unreimbursed gifts provided to the school.  Examples include the purchase of a new computer for the classroom, a set of books for the library, or money to assist with a school project or fundraiser.  Note that the donations must be given to the school.  For example, purchasing a classroom computer but taking it home for the summer would be considered a classroom expense, not a charitable donation.

#7 – Teacher Travel Deduction (mileage, parking, tolls, meals, lodging, etc.)

Travel from home to your place of employment is generally not deductible.  However, unreimbursed travel to trainings, seminars, conventions, conferences, or other school-sanctioned events are tax-deductible teacher expenses.  In addition, if you have teaching obligations at more than one schools then travel between schools are also tax-deductible.  Note that meals and lodging are generally only tax-deductible if you are required to stay overnight for out-of-town travel.

Work a second job? Teacher and other educators may also be able to deduct mileage from going to one job to another.  See Tax-Deductible Mileage Chart for more details.

Who Can Claim Teacher Tax Deductions?

Only qualified educators are allowed to claim the credit if they worked at least 900 hours in a school year in a school that provides elementary or secondary education.  Qualified educators include teachers, instructors, counselors, principals, or aides who support kindergarten through grade 12 students.

Related Articles:

How to Claim Teacher Tax Deductions on Tax Returns

Simply Taxes, LLC is a local year-round tax preparation firm with an office located in North Raleigh.  Our Raleigh accountants are ready to assist you with your questions pertaining to your taxes!

The information contained within this article is for general guidance only. As such, it should not be used as a substitute for consulting with professional accounting, tax, legal or other competent advisers. 

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