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IRS Tax Deductions for Teachers

September 12, 2017

Teachers in the United States often need to pay for several teaching expenses out of their own pocket. Some of these expenses may qualify as ‘tax deductions’ while filing the U.S. federal income tax return.

To help teachers claim these tax deductions, AG Tax professionals have summarized some of the key expenses that teachers can claim as ‘tax deductions’.


Teachers’ Expenses Qualifying as ‘Tax Deductions’


Educator Expense Deduction for Teachers in the U.S.

If you are an eligible educator you may deduct up to $250 per tax filer for qualifying unreimbursed teaching expenses, such as: books, stationery, supplies, computer equipment (including software, or any hardware), or any other expenses incurred for the classroom. No receipts or any other document need to be provided in support of this expense claim.

You’re an eligible educator if, for the tax year you’re a kindergarten through grade 12 teacher, instructor, counselor, principal or aide for at least 900 hours a school year in a school that provides elementary or secondary education as determined under state law.

The amount that the teacher can claim depends on the extent by which the expense amount exceeds the following amounts for the tax year:

  • The interest on series EE and U.S. savings bonds excluded from income because the (taxpayer) educator paid qualified higher education expenses,
  • Any distribution from a qualified state tuition program that the taxpayer (educator) will be excluding from their income,
  • Any tax-free withdrawals from their Coverdell education savings accounts,
  • Any reimbursements received for the incurred expenses that have not been reported in ‘box-1’ of the educator’s Form W-2.

The educator expense deduction is an “above-the-line” adjustment to gross income meaning you may claim these expenses regardless of whether you take the standard or itemized deduction.


Itemized Deductions for Teachers in the U.S.

Don’t stop keeping track at $250.00 because your expenses in excess of $250 can count as “unreimbursed employee expenses”.  In addition to the educator expense deduction, the following expenses can be deducted as ‘itemized deductions’ subject to the 2% limit on miscellaneous itemized deductions while filing the U.S. income tax return.

  1. Professional Expenses: As a teacher, you may need to incur expenses on getting registered, obtaining certain license and permits, subscribe to educational newsletters, magazines, etc. and at times may need to give additional tests to certify your set of skills, or have union dues expense. All these expenses and other such professional expenses may be claimed on the tax return.
  2. Teaching Equipment & Classroom Supplies Expenses: Equipment bought to assist with the profession, such as: a whistle, name tags, stationery, printer, shredder, calculators, books, tuition, transcripts, etc. are all claimable as ‘tax deductions’.
  1. Home Office: If you have a specific area in your house dedicated to carry out your teaching activities, you may be able to claim certain amount as tax deduction on the portion used as home-office.
  1. Educational Travel: If your teaching profession requires you to make domestic and/or international trips to places such as: Washington DC for museum visits, seminars, all the expenses related to the trip, such as: airfare, hotel, transportation, tips, museum or exhibition entrance fees may qualify as tax deductible expenses. However, proper records should be maintained for each trip made that is related to work.
  1. Mileage Expense: If you maintain a vehicle for your teaching profession, and use it to commute to places outside the school for school functions, fairs, games, plays, concerts, field trips, pick up school supplies, or any other similar activities for the school, expenses related to this vehicle may qualify as tax deduction. It is important to maintain record of the vehicle’s expenses, date the vehicle was placed in service. It is also handy maintaining a log book with the date, place, and miles driven to and fro. Note:  travel from your home to the school will not qualify. (Learn more about: U.S. Standard Mileage Rates for 2017)

Remember that keeping good records of all expenses is crucial to claim qualifying expenses as ‘itemized deductions’.  Many teachers fail to claim these expenses as they do not maintain receipts required to validate the ‘tax deduction’ claims.   



If you have any tax-related queries, need assistance with tax planning or filing your tax returns please contact us. Our team comprises of highly experienced tax professionals with extensive knowledge of US and Canadian tax laws as well as cross-border compliance.

Furthermore, as a full service accounting firm, AG Tax assures complete assistance with even your most complex tax needs.

We can assist with:

  • Canadian Personal and corporate tax returns
  • Cross Border Taxation and Business Planning
  • US Personal and Corporate Taxation
  • Disclosure of Foreign Assets and other information filings
  • Retirement planning
  • Estate Planning, Inheritance tax advice

To obtain a quote or to arrange for a tax consultation to discuss your US Canada cross border tax  queries, please contact us at:

  • 604-538-8735 (Greater Vancouver Area, BC)
  • 780-702-2732 (Greater Edmonton Area, AB)


Disclaimer: The information in this publication is accurate as of the time of its publication. AG Tax assumes no responsibility for changes to tax legislation subsequent to the publication of this document. The information provided is for general information purposes only and should not be acted upon without seeking professional advice. If you would like to engage our services, please contact our staff and obtain authorization to send our firm confidential information. A client relationship is not created by the transmission of information. A client relationship is only formed with our firm when a scope and engagement letter signed by the firm and the potential client detailing the terms of engagement is present.

ABOUTAylett Grant Tax, LLP
With offices across Canada, we are positioned to manage and process the full scope of your Canadian, US and US Canada cross-border tax filing needs.
12752 28th Ave, Surrey, BC, V4A 2P4
104–4220 98 St NW Edmonton AB, T6E 6A1
With offices across Canada, we are positioned to manage and process the full scope of your Canadian, US and US Canada cross-border tax filing needs.
12752 28th Ave, Surrey, BC, V4A 2P4
104–4220 98 St NW Edmonton AB, T6E 6A1

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