Claiming the Educator Expenses Deduction

We all know teachers spend their own money to ensure that their students classroom needs are met. This could be in the form of supplies, or supplemental materials or it might be through continuing education courses. A poll conducted by Scholastic shows that teachers in poverty stricken areas can spend more than $500 of their own money each year on behalf of their classes. And, principals have reported spending upwards of $1000 out of pocket for their students.

While we’d all agree that this seems unfair, there is a bit of hope for these dedicated educators. Teachers, principals and aides, can qualify for the Educator Expenses Deduction on their IRS Tax Return.

Claiming the Educator Expense Deduction | CowderyTax.com #taxes2018 #teachers #educators #taxdeductions

Who Qualifies for the Educator Expenses Deductions

To qualify for the educator expense deduction you need to be an eligible educator.

An eligible educator is defined by the IRS as: 

“You’re an eligible educator if, for the tax year you’re a kindergarten through grade 12 teacher, instructor, counselor, principal or aide for at least 900 hours a school year in a school that provides elementary or secondary education as determined under state law.”

  • Teachers
  • Aides
  • Counselors
  • Principals

Your workplace must be a school certified by your state. You must have worked for at least 900 hours during the school year. Since most schools take a full academic year to reach 900 hours of instruction it will mean that new teachers beginning a new job in August or September of the tax year, have not reached the minimum number of hours of work before the tax year ended on December 31.

But, if you worked for the school for the previous academic year, along with the current academic year, you most likely would qualify for the deduction.

Additionally, you need to be aware that only Kindergarten through High School educators are qualified for this deduction. Preschools, and homeschools are not considered eligible educators to receive this deduction.

How Much is the Educator Expenses Deduction

Eligible educators, can deduct up to $250 of un-reimbursed trade of business expenses. If you are married to an eligible educator and filing jointly you may deduct a total of $250 each, or $500 total.

You may take this deduction on any qualified expenses which you incurred during the tax year. Note that the deductions are taken for the tax year, not an academic year.

  • professional development courses
  • books
  • supplies
  • supplemental materials
  • computer equipment (including related software and services)
  • other equipment

Materials are items that  you’ have used in the classroom. For athletic or physical educators qualified expenses for supplies must be for athletic supplies.

What’s Changed for the 2018 Tax Filing Year

In previous years, educators may have been able to claim the employee business expenses itemized deduction, however, in the new tax laws as a result of the Tax Cut & Jobs Act, has removed this option. In an attempt to simplify taxes the new forms require most people to take only the standard deduction. Part of what was eliminated under the new tax law is miscellaneous business expenses.

How to Claim the Educator Expenses Deduction

To claim the deduction you will need to complete Form 1040.pdf as attach Form 1040, Schedule 1.pdf or Form 1040NR.pdf to your return.This deduction reduces the adjusted gross income which could qualify you for additional credits.


We’re always here to help you navigate your tax filings.

Give us a call at 740-374-6942 or email Cinda@CowderyTax.com to schedule your appointment.

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