What Are Some Overlooked Income Tax Deductions for Teachers?

Teachers can take advantage of several tax deductions.
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As school budgets get slimmer, teachers often take up the slack, purchasing supplies for their classrooms with their own money. If you’re a teacher, you may be able to deduct some of these purchases on your income taxes. If you take classes to further your own education, or attend conventions or seminars out of town, these expenses may qualify for a deduction also. Some of these deductions are available even if you don’t itemize.

Classroom Supplies

Teachers can deduct up to $250 of books, supplies, software and other materials you use in your classroom. Deduct this expense directly from your income, on line 23 of Form 1040, even if you don’t itemize. If you’re married and your spouse is also a teacher, he gets to deduct up to $250 of expenses as well, for a combined total of up to $500. If you spent more than $250 on supplies and you itemize your taxes, you can include any amount over $250 in your miscellaneous deductions, but you can deduct only the amount of miscellaneous deductions that is more than 2 percent of your adjusted gross income.

Other Business Expenses

If you pay dues to a teacher’s union, subscribe to magazines related to teaching, attend a seminar out of town and pay your own travel expenses, or pay for a course necessary for your job, these qualify as business expenses and are part of the miscellaneous deductions you may be able to take if you itemize deductions. All of your miscellaneous deductions added together must equal more than 2 percent of your adjusted gross income – and you can deduct only the amount bove that 2 percent figure.

Student Loan Interest

If you’re still paying off your own student loans, you may deduct up to $2,500 in interest you paid on these loans. You can’t take it if your filing status is married filing separately, but you don’t have to itemize to take advantage of the deduction; it’s subtracted directly from your adjusted gross income.

Education Expenses

If you go back to school to get your master’s or a doctorate, or take a course to improve your teaching skills, you may be able to deduct all or part of your tuition, books and other expenses as either a lifetime learning credit or an American opportunity credit, up to $4,000. You can’t deduct expenses you pay for with tax-free funds, such as a grant. If you’re married, you must file a joint return to take advantage of these deductions.

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