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Claiming a Tax Deduction for Unreimbursed Educator Expenses

August 2019 | admin

With the new school year right around the corner, teachers are beginning to get their classrooms ready for the beginning of the school year.  In many cases, educators have to purchases items for the classroom that the school is unable to reimburse them for.  A tax deduction is available for educators that allows up to a $250 deduction for expenses not reimbursed ($500 if both spouses are educators) and can be claimed on their personal income tax return.


Now, before we continue on who qualifies for this deduction, let’s all first agree that this deduction is way too low at $250. As a husband of a teacher I see firsthand the true out of pocket costs that go into preparing one’s classroom with the items needed to set children up for success. But unfortunately, I am still waiting for the IRS to call me and ask me my opinion on a few of these topics.


To qualify for the deduction, you must be a teacher, aide, instructor, counselor or principal.  You must work at least 900 hours in a school year.  Only grades K through 12 are eligible for the deduction and the school can be public, private or religious. Expenses for preschool and homeschool do not qualify.


Eligible expenses include:

  • Books
  • Supplies
  • Computer equipment and software
  • Athletic equipment (if used by health or physical education teachers)
  • Any other materials or supplies that are considered ordinary and necessary
  • Professional development courses


Educators are encouraged to save all their receipts and keep track of the expenses that were not reimbursed in order to take advantage of this deduction when they file their 2020 taxes.