Education News

Educator tax deduction revived for 2014, expires once again

By Amanda Litvinov

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Just before the 113th Congress wrapped up its business in December, the Senate passed the House-approved bill that extends more than 50 tax breaks, including the $250 tax deduction for educators who purchase classroom supplies and instructional materials.

The good news is that educators who made such purchases in 2014 can take the deduction. The bad news is the retroactive measure was written to expire on December 31, which means Congress will have to debate the issue again to renew the deduction for 2015 and beyond.

AnArb_Bryant_Classroom_23As a single mom and teacher of 11 years, Tanya Bertelson knows that the $250 tax credit does make a difference.

“I spend as much in my classroom as I do providing my own children with supplies for the year,” Bertelson commented.

“I spend close to $500 out of my pocket each year in order to give my students as many opportunities as possible. That adds up to approximately $5,500 throughout my teaching career, which is a lot of money out of my family’s budget.”

Educators across the country have spoken out on the importance of this tax deduction, which helps offset the collective $1.6 billion that educators spend over the course of a school year, according to the most recent data of the National School Supply and Equipment Association.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle care about this issue, too.

The educator tax deduction was instituted in 2002 in recognition of educators’ generosity, and has long had bipartisan support.

The National Education Association strongly supported the Teacher Tax Relief Act of 2014 (H.R. 5504), which would make permanent the educator tax deduction for qualified expenses and expand it to include some professional development expenses.

Rep. David Reichert (R-WA)  and the bill’s four other sponsors–Jim McDermott (D-WA), Aaron Schock (R-IL), Pat Tiberi (R-OH), and Bill Pascrell (D-NJ)–said in a statement: “Too often teachers spend their own hard-earned money in order to provide their students with basic school supplies. Our bill will alleviate some of the financial burden placed on today’s teachers while also making a significant investment in the education and the futures of America’s children.”

NEA continues to work with federal legislators in the 114th Congress to expand the educator tax deduction and make it permanent.


10 responses to “Educator tax deduction revived for 2014, expires once again

  1. So why don’t we just keep our receipts and call our costs of subsidizing public education as what they are–tax-deductible donations to a nonprofit of an educational nature? Or even a business expense? Are either of these two options legal, because everyone else in the country can do this, and it saves them in taxes. Why not us?

  2. Embarrassing, degrading, insulting, demoralizing, a definite slap in the face to educators. Other professionals are allowed so many deductions, but once again teachers are definitely undervalued and expected to perform as if they were paid adequately. Pathetic the way the government treats educators…. Probably because we do not stand up for our profession as we are nurturers and caretakers by nature we are expected to do our jobs!

  3. I spend approximately $1000.00 every year out of my pocket, and the newly adopted Common Core Standards are costing me an additional sum I am afraid to tally. They are costly standards to my pocketbook. In addition, my site administration wants us to go online and download/purchase materials and pay for printing (ink is not cheap). Congess can afford to subsidize oil and insurance, give billionaires a plethora of tax breaks but can’t afford to give public school teachers a paltry $250! Shame on them!

    1. Keep in mind that this is a tax deduction, not a credit. At my tax bracket (and many other teacher’s, sadly) the $250 deduction only amounts to a $37.50 savings per year on my income tax.

  4. As a Pre-Service teacher I am extremely concerned with this issue. As I matriculate through undergrad, I am sure I will experience this once I am out in the field however, if the expansion of educator tax deductions will become permanent, this would benefit our teachers across American and most importantly our students. Where can we start? What can we do to MAKE THIS HAPPEN?

  5. It is hard to believe that this tax break even needs to be debated. I easily can spend $250 a month on school related supplies between prizes for students, posters, supplemental materials, manipulatives, and everyday supply needs. Ever changing curriculum and technology makes updating items a necessity and schools simply do not have funds to do this, which leaves to the individual teachers.

  6. While this $250 deduction is better than nothing, let us not forget some basic mathematics: the deduction means a teacher’s tax bill is reduced by, say, $50 if you are in the 20% tax bracket. This hardly replaces adequate funding, just says the government will repay us $50 toward the hundreds or thousands that we pay to make up for the inadequate funding.

    Really, I find this deduction insulting, and ask why we as an organization play along with their sham, rather than exposing it for the feel-good gimmick that it is, one that even conservative Republicans, who have no love for educators, can support, even as they decimate education budgets.

    Jon Ball
    Boston, MA

  7. I spend varying amounts from years to year, but 250 dollars never covers it. My out-of-pocket spending can vary from $400 to $700 depending on what the needs are of my students, what curriculum enhancements I want to make, and what needs to be replaced each year.

  8. I spend at least $1,000.00 every school year to provide for my students. $250.00 is nothing when it comes to deductions for taxes. For the amount of yearly pay that we get and the amount of our own money we spend, we should be able to write off almost everything we spend on our students.

  9. I have never spent less than $900.00. However, since the new Common Core Standards, I am spending $1,200 easily. BTW, my district expects us to purchase copy paper.

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