For the first time in 20 years, the Internal Revenue Service is increasing the deduction limit for the amount of money teachers spend on school supplies, the agency has announced. Teachers will now be able to deduct up to $300 of out-of-pocket classroom expenses in 2022 (or up to $600 for married educators filing jointly), up from the $250 that has been set since the incentive first started in 2002. The limit will rise in $50 increments in future years based on inflation adjustments, and the deduction can be taken even if the filer elects to take the standard deduction.
Eligible educators include anyone who is a kindergarten through grade 12 teacher, instructor, counselor, principal or aide in a school for at least 900 hours during the school year. Both public and private school educators qualify. Educators can deduct the unreimbursed cost of:
- Books, supplies and other materials used in the classroom.
- Equipment, including computer equipment, software and services.
- COVID-19 protective items to stop the spread of the disease in the classroom. This includes face masks, disinfectant for use against COVID-19, hand soap, hand sanitizer, disposable gloves, tape, paint or chalk to guide social distancing, physical barriers, such as clear plexiglass, air purifiers and other items recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Professional development courses related to the curriculum they teach or the students they teach. But the IRS cautions that, for these expenses, it may be more beneficial to claim another educational tax benefit, especially the lifetime learning credit. For details, see Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education , particularly Chapter 3.
Qualified expenses don’t include the cost of home schooling or for nonathletic supplies for courses in health or physical education. As with all deductions and credits, the IRS reminds educators to keep good records, including receipts, cancelled checks and other documentation.
If you’re an educator and you’d like assistance taking advantage of this deduction, contact your ShindelRock tax professional.