When tax time comes around, it’s natural for teachers to start scrounging for those receipts for all of those classroom supplies they’ve purchased out of pocket during the year. But hold up: Is it worth it to pull out all those receipts? What can teachers write off on taxes in 2022? What if I have to buy masks to teach or classroom supplies?
We crunched the numbers and came up with some tips for teachers on maximizing the 2022 teacher tax credit!
How Much Do Teachers Spend Out of Pocket?
Wonder how many teachers spend their own money in the classroom? The number is nearly all with 95% percent reporting their classroom budget isn’t enough to cover everything they need in a 2021 survey. The Adopt a Classroom survey of teacher spending in 2021 found the average spending was $750 a year, with purchases for COVID safety regulations increasing the load for many teachers. COVID purchases alone cost an average of $160 per teacher in the 2020-21 school year.
In years past, policy experts at the Economic Policy Institute have done similar reviews of teacher spending, and their analysis indicates nine in 10 teachers are not reimbursed for the things they buy. And if you’re not being reimbursed, that’s where keeping track of your spending could become useful come tax time.
What Can Teachers Write Off On Taxes?
The decision of how much teachers can deduct from their income taxes lies with the Internal Revenue Service, and in 2022 the answer is a total of $250 can come off a teacher’s taxes for expenses.
But hold on a second! There are some rules and regulations that you’re going to have to keep in mind! First off, the figure only applies to spending that wasn’t reimbursed. After all, if you got a check back from your school district or a grant to cover the costs, it technically wasn’t out-of-pocket spending, and that means it doesn’t qualify as an income tax reduction.
Here’s what else you need to keep in mind:
Teachers who can take the $250 tax credit include:
- Those who work at least 900 hours in the year at a school
- Those who work as a teacher, principal, aide, instructor, or counselor
- Those who teach any grade from kindergarten through 12
- Those who work in a school providing elementary or secondary education
A Teach Starter subscription — we’ve had the question, so we figured we’d answer right away! Your Teach Starter subscription unlocks thousands of teaching resources, games, and digital tools and qualifies under the IRS’ stipulation that teachers can write off “supplementary materials.”
Other items teachers can apply toward their $250 deduction include:
- Professional development
- Books for the classroom
- Supplies from pencils to manipulatives
- Computer equipment including related software and services
- Athletic supplies — but only those used for health and physical education
Can I Write Off COVID-19 Classroom Expenses?
This is a newer deduction for the IRS, and the answer is yes, teachers can apply some of their COVID-19 classroom expenses to their tax write-offs in 2022, so long as they weren’t reimbursed by the school district. That can apply to masks mandated by the district, hand sanitizer for the classroom, cleaning supplies used to keep germs at bay, and even air purifiers you purchased for your class.
Other pandemic-related items that can be applied to your $250 tax deduction for 2022 if you’re a teacher include:
- Hand soap
- Disposable gloves
- Tape, paint or chalk to guide social distancing
- Physical barriers, such as clear plexiglass
What If My Spouse and I Are Both Teachers?
If you are married to another teacher, your teacher deduction goes up — sort of. Each of you get to claim your $250, for a total $500 deduction if you file a joint tax return.
Are There Any Other Teacher Tax Deductions?
Your accountant is your best bet for personal deductions beyond the standard teacher deductions — after all, you may have a side gig we don’t know about! But if you’re a teacher who has gone back to school to pursue additional education, be aware that there are deductions for tuition that may exceed that $250 limit.