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Feature Articles: Taxes


Deduction for Educator Expenses

Reviewed and used with special permission from the IRS by: Brenda Procter, M.S., State Specialist & Instructor, Personal Financial Planning, University of Missouri Extension


If you are an eligible educator, you may be able to deduct up to $250 of expenses you paid for purchases of books and classroom supplies (or $500 if married filing jointly and both spouses are educators, but not more than $250 each). These out-of-pocket expenses may lower your tax bill even if you don’t itemize your deductions.

Eligible Educator: The deduction is available if you are an eligible educator in a public or private elementary or secondary school. To be eligible, you must work at least 900 hours during a school year as a teacher, instructor, counselor, principal or aide.

Qualifying Expenses: You may subtract up to $250 of qualified expenses when figuring your adjusted gross income. Qualified expenses are unreimbursed expenses you paid for books, supplies, computer equipment (including related software and services) and supplementary materials that you use in the classroom. For courses in health and physical education, expenses for supplies are qualified expenses only if they are related to athletics.

To be deductible, the qualified expenses must be more than the interest on qualified U.S. savings bonds that you excluded from income because you paid qualified higher education expenses, any distribution from a qualified tuition program that you excluded from income, and any tax-free withdrawals from your Coverdell Education savings account.

You can find more information on Educator Expenses in IRS Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax, under Chapter 19, Education Related Adjustments, which is available at or by calling 1-800-TAX-FORM (1-800-829-3676).

IRS. (2011). Tax topic 458: Educator expense deduction. Retrieved from


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