The Educator Expense Deduction allows eligible educators to deduct up to $250 worth of qualified expenses from their income. If you’re an eligible educator, you can deduct up to $250 ($500 if married filing jointly and both spouses are eligible educators, but not more than $250 each) of unreimbursed trade or business expenses. Qualified expenses are amounts you paid or incurred for participation in professional development courses, books, supplies, computer equipment (including related software and services), other equipment, and supplementary materials that you use in the classroom. For courses in health or physical education, the expenses for supplies must be for athletic supplies. Qualified expenses also include the amounts you paid or incurred after March 12, 2020, for personal protective equipment, disinfectant, and other supplies used for the prevention of the spread of coronavirus. This deduction is for expenses paid or incurred during the tax year. You claim the deduction on Form 1040Form 1040-SR, or Form 1040-NR (attach Schedule 1 (Form 1040) PDF).

Here are some of the expenses an educator can deduct:

    • Professional development course fees
    • Books
    • Supplies
    • Computer equipment, including related software and services
    • Other equipment and materials used in the classroom

Educators can now deduct out-of-pocket expenses for COVID-19 protective items

Eligible educators can deduct unreimbursed expenses for COVID-19 protective items to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the classroom. COVID-19 protective items include, but are not limited to:

  • face masks;
  • disinfectant for use against COVID-19;
  • hand soap;
  • hand sanitizer;
  • disposable gloves;
  • tape, paint or chalk to guide social distancing;
  • physical barriers (for example, clear plexiglass);
  • air purifiers; and
  • other items recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to be used for the prevention of the spread of COVID-19.

Who is Eligible?

Teachers may be eligible for the Educator Expense Deduction if they meet certain criteria:

  • Be employed by a school that provides elementary or secondary education as determined by state law
  • Work with students in kindergarten through grade 12
  • Complete at least 900 hours of work during the school year
  • Work as a teacher, instructor, counselor, principal or classroom aide

An educator who worked in a first-grade classroom at a public school and met the hours requirement would likely qualify for the deduction. Similarly, a guidance counselor who purchased materials to work with students could also be eligible.  If you have questions about your eligibility you can inquire with your accountant or your CPA.

Please keep in mind that individuals working at pre-schools, homeschooling their own children, or who are employed by a college or graduate school would not qualify for this deduction.  Also important to note is the IRS has special qualifications for married couples where both people work as educators. If two teachers are married and filing taxes jointly, they are eligible to deduct a total of up to $500, with no more than $250 in expenses for each person.

In order to take the Educator Expense Deductions, teachers should begin by determining eligibility. Once you have verified that you meet the minimum hours and that you work in a qualifying school, look at your expenses over the last year that qualify for this deduction.


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