Education Pages

Tax Deductions for Educator, Teacher Expenses

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Teacher Files Taxes

Teachers or educators can generally deduct unreimbursed, out-of-pocket, school, trade, or educator business expenses up to $300 on their federal tax returns for single taxpayers using the Educator Expense Deduction. You do not have to itemize your deductions to claim this since it is an above-the-line deduction. If you and your spouse are both educators or teachers and your filing status is married filing jointly, you can deduct up to a maximum of $600. If you wish to take this deduction, be sure to keep all receipts of purchases made that you plan on claiming. You can easily claim the educator expense as teacher deductions when you prepare and e-file your federal income taxes on

Eligible Educator

You are an eligible educator if you educate or teach at least 900 hours in a school year. This can be for a kindergarten or school that provides elementary or secondary education (as recognized under state law) through grade 12 as one of the following educator or teaching professions:

  • Principal
  • Counselor
  • Instructor
  • Teacher
  • Teacher's aide.

The above positions can be at a public, private, or religious school. The Educator Expense Deduction cannot be taken by homeschooling parents or post-secondary (college) educators.

Qualified Educator or Teacher Expenses

The following expenses are considered qualified deductible expenses:

  • Paid or incurred fees for teaching materials (books, school supplies, computer equipment, software, services, etc.)
  • Other equipment used in the classroom
  • Athletic equipment used by physical education teachers, however nonathletic supplies for classes in health or physical education do not qualify
  • Professional development course fees
  • Special equipment and supplementary materials used in the classroom
  • Health and physical education courses (only if they are related to athletics).

Unfortunately, teacher's union dues are no longer deductible as a result of tax reform.

You will be asked about these expenses during the tax interview and we will help you report them on the proper form(s) - you don't have to worry about exactly where to enter these deductions, we will do it for you! eFileIT now on

Exceptions to Qualified Educator Expenses

These expenses are only deductible to the extent that the amount of such expenses exceed the following amounts for the tax year:

  • The interest on qualified U.S. savings bonds excluded from income because of paid qualified higher education expenses
  • Any distribution from a qualified tuition program excluded from income
  • Any tax-free withdrawals from a Coverdell Education Savings Account
  • Any reimbursed expenses not reported on W-2, Box 1.

In other words, your expenses must be less than the combined amounts of the items listed above.

Other Deductions and Credits for Teachers

Maximize your tax savings for being a teacher or pursuing higher education! If you as a teacher want to higher your education, you can deduct your teaching expenses and claim a tax credit for your education expenses at the same time.

  • Teachers who are pursuing a Master's degree or are taking classes to improve their job skills can also take advantage of the Lifetime Learning Credit which can give you a great tax break and is worth up to $2,000 per year.
  • If you make a charitable donation to a nonprofit school, you might be eligible to claim it as a charitable deduction. Make sure that you have good records and are working with school administrators or the principal to get the appropriate records to support the claim.
  • Some states such as Ohio, Maine, Iowa, and the District of Columbia might offer deductions or tax credits for teachers who use their own money for school supplies. This is in addition to the federal deduction described above. Contact your state for more information.
  • Tax-Sheltered Annuity Plans(403(b) Plans) for employees of public schools and certain tax-exempt organizations. A 403(b) plan is also known as a tax-sheltered annuity or TSA plan. This is a retirement plan for certain employees of public schools, employees of certain tax-exempt organizations, and certain ministers.

Additional Resources