IRS increases expense deduction for qualifying educators

Heather Jauquet

The initiative misses the mark, leaving teachers feeling unimpressed and undervalued

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Close up of Benjamin Franklin on a hundred dollar billNathan Dumlao/Unsplash

As school systems across the country are dealing with teacher shortages and the mass exodus in education, the Internal Revenue Service has increased the deduction for out-of-pocket classroom expenses for 2022 when they file their federal income tax return.

Eligible educators can now deduct up to $300 for qualifying expenses. The deduction is a $50 increase. Most notable is that this is the first time the annual limit has increased since the special educator expense deduction was enacted in 2002. The limit will rise in $50 increments in future years based on inflation adjustments.

Who qualifies?

Private and public educators teaching kindergarten through 12th grade are eligible. Also included are a school's instructors, counselors, principals, or aides who work for at least 900 hours during the school year.

The limit is $600 for married educators who file a joint return with another eligible educator.

What is deductible?

  • Book, supplies, and materials used in the classroom
  • Computer Equipment, including software and services
  • COVID-10 protective items
  • Professional development courses related to the curriculum they teach or the students they teach.

The deduction, like most incentives, misses the mark

While educators appreciate the extra deduction, the premise misses the mark, especially at a time when educators feel undervalued. The deduction is just another example of how teachers feel under-appreciated and undervalued. Teachers think essential items to make their classroom a welcoming and equitable learning environment should not have to come out of pocket. Their classroom materials are just as necessary as any item needed for any other job. Just because it is colorful, can be manipulated for easier access, or provides inspirational sayings does not make it any less beneficial to the students who will use them.

Many teachers provide the materials that their schools can’t afford. They rely on their PTA’s, the generosity of parents, or pay out of pocket for diverse and leveled classroom libraries, extra school supplies, bulletin boards, posters, and comfortable seating. In addition to basic classroom supplies, teachers also personally provide or ask for donations for basic health and cleaning supplies such as hand sanitizers, tissues, and disinfecting wipes. When students and parents walk into a teacher’s classroom, most of what they see is money out of pocket for teachers. Yet, they spend the money to make their classrooms a welcoming, appealing, and healthy environment for their students.

Montgomery County families help teachers clear their classroom wish lists

To support teachers across the county, Montgomery County teachers Jennifer Wilson and Kate Stone have created a Facebook page to “Adopt-a-teacher” for Montgomery County Public School (MCPS) teachers to help them clear their wishlists. With almost 2,000 members in the group, teachers post their Amazon wish lists, and families donate classroom items to support public school teachers across the county. The group is optional, allowing families to provide the most wished-for or needed classroom materials. It also gives a peek into what goes into preparing a classroom for the school year.

How will you help your local teacher? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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Certified educator K-12 and Reading Specialist with a focus on the adolescent brain. I write about how educational decisions affect parents, students, and staff. As an educator and parent I also focus on community events for the whole family.

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