Educator Expenses

Taxpayers who to qualify as eligible educators may be entitled to deduct some qualified out-of-pocket expenses. The IRS defines eligible educator as any kindergarten through grade 12 teacher, instructor, counselor, principal, or aide who worked in a school for at least 900 hours during a school year.

Once satisfying the eligible educator requirement, a taxpayer may then deduct up to $250 of out-of-pocket expenses on Form 1040’s Line 23. If both the taxpayer and his/her spouse were eligible educators filing jointly, their combined deduction privilege is raised to $500. That being said, neither spouse can deduct more than $250 of his or her own qualified expenses. Taxpayers with unusually large educator expenses may have yet another deduction option; if choosing to itemize deductions on a Schedule A, the taxpayer will be given an opportunity to itemized educator expenses beyond the $250 threshold on Line 21 of Schedule A.

Notwithstanding the $250 limit, only certain expenses are deductible. Qualified expenses include only ordinary and necessary expenses paid in connection with books, supplies, equipment (including computer equipment, software, and services), and other materials used in the classroom. An ordinary expense is one that is common and accepted in the taxpayer’s educational field. A necessary expense is one that is helpful and appropriate for the educator profession. An expense does not have to be required by an employer or law to be considered necessary. Qualified expenses will not include expenses for home schooling or for non-athletic supplies for courses in health or physical education.

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