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Tax Deductions for Educator, Teacher Expenses

We at eFile.com are pleased to recognize, thank, and reward teachers, educators, and students during the 2021 Tax Season. Therefore, all Free Basic Edition Tax Returns are free and all other returns are 50% off. If you e-File your taxes on eFile.com with a valid .edu email address, enter promo code 19edu50 during checkout. Start and e-File your Education Return Now.

Teacher Files Taxes

For Tax Year 2020, teachers or educators can generally deduct unreimbursed school, trade, or business expenses up to $250 on their federal tax returns. If you and your spouse are both educators or teachers and your filing status is Married Filing Jointly, you might be eligible to deduct up to a maximum of $500.  If you wish to take this deduction, be sure to keep all receipts of purchases made that you wish to claim. You can easily claim the Educator or Teacher deduction when you prepare and efile your federal income taxes on eFile.com.

Eligible Educator

You are an eligible educator if you educate or teach at least 900 hours in a school year in 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

Qualified Educator or Teacher Expenses

The following expenses are considered deductible expenses: 

  • Paid or incurred fees for teaching materials (books, supplies, computer equipment, software, services, etc.)
  • Other equipment used in the classroom
  • 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)

You will be asked about these expenses during the eFile.com tax interview before we will help you report them on the proper form(s)—you don't have to worry about exactly where to enter these deductions.

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

Other Deductions/Credits for Teachers

  • 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.

Detailed overview of Taxes in Education.

Learn more about other tax deductions you might qualify to claim on your tax return. 

Students please visit these student related tax pages that list tax credits and tax deductions.

Contact our eFile.com support team if you have any additional questions.