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What Are Some Tax Write-Offs for Teachers?

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    • Taxes for Teacherstax forms image by Chad McDermott from Fotolia.com

      For most teachers, spending personal money on supplies for their classroom is something that comes with the job. Many schools are financially strapped and can only afford to provide the basic necessities for students. Anything extra a teacher wants or needs to engage students is often purchased with his own cash. Fortunately, the IRS understands these out-of-pocket expenses and added an educator expense claim that allows teachers to deduct up to $250 for money spent on classroom supplies.

    Who is Eligible?

    • In order to claim the $250 deduction, you must be a full-time educator from kindergarten through grade 12 with more than 900 hours worked within a school year. The deduction is not limited to just teachers. Principals, school aides, counselors and other instructors are also eligible.

      The $250 out-of-pocket deduction for educators can be claimed by people who file either standard or itemized tax returns.

    What Items Classify as Write-Offs?

    • The guidelines for what purchases can be claimed toward the deduction are very broad. Pretty much any item purchased for classroom use falls under the umbrella. This includes software, books, DVDs and other miscellaneous supplies that are not reimbursed by an employer. Tax professionals recommend being prudent about claimed items. While a DVD of a "Streetcar Named Desire" would be okay for use in an English class, claiming a 40-inch flat screen television to watch the movie on would likely raises a few red flags.

      In general, the IRS's "ordinary and necessary" rule applies for items claimed. An item claimed can be "ordinary" in the sense that it is commonly used for education. An item claimed can be "necessary" if it is helpful and appropriate in the classroom, even though it is not required, .

    Two-Teacher Households

    • If two married people filing jointly both hold qualified education jobs, the maximum deduction is still $250 for each person. If one person spent $100 and the other spent $400, only $350 can be deducted as the amounts cannot be combined between people.

    Educators Continuing Their Education

    • For education professionals who are also continuing their own education, the amount claimed for out-of-pocket expenses is affected by any non-taxed funds applied to their own schooling costs. This includes earnings from qualified state tuition programs and tax-free withdrawals from Coverdell education savings accounts. These funds must be deducted from the educator expense claim and in most cases negate the educator expense claim entirely.

    Applying the Deduction

    • If you determine that you are indeed eligible, the deduction is taken on line 23 of Form 1040.

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