tax breaks — May 10, 2021

Teachers Can Count COVID Supplies Toward Educator Deduction

by Susannah McQuitty

Teachers can claim tax deduction for Coronavirus supplies


Good news, teachers: Thanks to COVID-19 tax relief, you can officially use your unreimbursed expenses for Coronavirus-preventative supplies toward your $250 tax deduction.

So how does the deduction work? Let’s review the basics and how you can use some COVID expenses to boost your refund (or reduce taxes owed).

How much is the teacher supplies deduction worth?

The Educator Expense Deduction is worth up to $250 per teacher, which means that if you’re married to another teacher, you can both get up to $250 each for a total of $500 (no sharing expenses, though—you can only deduct $250 of your own expenses).

The great thing about this deduction is that it’s considered an above-the-line deduction, which means you can still take it if you don’t itemize deductions.

Who qualifies for the $250 educator tax deduction?

We opened this post with talking to teachers, but more people in the education world can qualify for the tax break. Kindergarten through grade 12 teachers, instructors, counselors, principals or aides can qualify, as long as they have unreimbursed expenses and worked at least 900 hours during a school year.

What sort of normal expenses qualify for the teacher deduction?

In order to count toward the deduction, an expense has to be unreimbursed by your employer (meaning they didn’t pay you back for the supplies) and also considered an “ordinary or necessary” expense.

That boils down to whether most people in your profession would typically need or use the supplies you want to deduct, so things like books, art supplies, computer equipment (including related software and services), and supplementary materials would likely make the cut.

Which COVID-19 supplies can I count toward the $250 teacher deduction?

Unreimbursed expenses paid or incurred after March 12, 2020 for personal protective equipment, disinfectant, and other Coronavirus-prevention supplies can count toward your $250 deduction.

Of course, these supplies include face masks, disinfectant, hand soap, hand sanitizer, and disposable gloves—but did you know it also includes tape, paint or chalk used to guide social distancing, and physical barriers like plexiglass? Basically, if it’s an item recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for COVID prevention, you can likely count the unreimbursed expense toward your deduction.

Now that you know how to qualify for the $250 teacher’s expense deduction, let’s get your taxes done!

Hopefully this post has helped you understand how to claim tax breaks for teacher expenses, so now all that’s left is to sit down and file. The deadline is May 17, so hurry to sign up or log in to get started on your tax return soon!

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