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What Is an Educator Expenses Deduction?

By Kenneth W. Michael Wills
Updated Feb 11, 2024
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In the United States, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Tax Code Topic 458 is titled Educator Expenses Deduction. This tax code allows some professionals in the field of education, such as teachers or certain administrators, to deduct expenses from their annual personal income tax filing if those expenses were paid out-of-pocket without reimbursement. Expenses incurred must originate from and help the educator carry out his or her teaching duties. The amount deductible through 2011 is limited to $250 US Dollars (USD) annually for one individual educator or $500 USD annually for those who are married, both defined as educators and filing taxes jointly under one form. Meant to provide tax relief for certain educators, particularly those working in public educational institutions, the code as applied may help stimulate investment in the classroom.

Qualified positions that can claim the Educator Expenses Deduction include teachers, principals, educational aides, counselors and instructors. Allowable expenses include equipment, teaching supplies, books, computer software and hardware, and supplemental aides used in the classroom. Educators responsible for teaching health or a physical education curriculum can only claim deductions for supplies that are used directly in athletics, according to the tax code. To that end, those claiming such deductions must claim them in the same year in which the expense were incurred. Furthermore, the tax code only applies to educators working in grades kindergarten through 12th.

This means in order to claim for such expenses, the educator must provide teaching instruction in either a grade school or a secondary school approved by the state where he or she works. Pre-school and college teachers do not qualify for the Educator Expenses Deduction. Additionally, in 2011 teachers must teach at least 900 hours to be able to claim such expenses, which means some part-time teachers are not eligible. Moreover, there are some other restrictions levied even if an educator meets all qualification criteria.

Restrictions to claiming the Educator Expenses Deduction involve the expenses having to exceed certain amounts in regards to specific financial events. If an educator has earned interest on a US savings bond but did not report that income because it was spent on college education, expenses claimed must exceed the amount earned. Money withdrawn from a qualified tuition program or a Coverdell Education Savings account cannot exceed the expenses claimed as well. Once an educator has determined he or she still qualifies after taking these stipulations into account, then he or she may include the deduction when filing taxes.

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