Tax Tips for Teachers: 5 Things Educators May Be Able to Claim Back in 2022

With the new 2022-2023 school year well underway, educators of all kinds will be happy to hear that the special education expense deduction will increase to $300 for the 2022 tax season. Previously, the deduction was capped at $250, but starting next year, the deduction will increase by $50 as necessary to meet rising inflation costs.

What this means for teachers is a dollar-for-dollar deduction in the amount of taxes they owe for things like classroom supplies, equipment, and more. Let’s take a closer look at some of the things you’ll be able to claim on your 2022 tax return.

1. Classroom Supplies

First, we’d like to start by saying that if you’re unsure if you qualify for the deduction or what constitutes a qualifying expense, work with a registered tax agent who deals in educational tax law. It’s better to let a professional handle your tax return if you want to ensure you get the biggest refund possible.

With that out of the way, let’s get to qualifying classroom supplies. Any supplies or materials needed in the classroom are eligible for deduction under the special educator’s expense deduction. For example, the cost of books you pay for out of your pocket can be deducted.

2. Equipment

Any equipment you purchase for your job or your students can be deducted. This includes computers, software, and any services needed to fix or upgrade said equipment.

Note: For all of these examples, you must keep all receipts and records of service for tax purposes. You probably won’t need to include them with your return, but should the IRS come knocking on your door with questions, it’ll be easier to clear everything up if you have proof of the deductions you’re claiming.

3. COVID-19 Supplies

Reducing the spread of the COVID-19 virus is a must in today’s classroom, so any supplies you purchase and use in your classroom for the cause can be deducted from your 2022 tax return. Examples of eligible items include:

  • Face masks
  • Disinfectants
  • Hand soap
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Disposable gloves
  • Chalk, tape, or paint to guide students in social distancing
  • Physical barriers (clear plexiglass)
  • Air purifiers
  • Anything else recommended by the CDC for reducing the spread of the virus

4. Professional Development Courses

Also deductible on your 2022 tax return are any professional development courses you take relating to the curriculum or students you teach.

We have to caution you here, though, because these courses may also be eligible for deduction under the Lifetime Learning Credit, which can be as much as $2,000 compared to just $300 for the special education expense deduction. Again, talk with your tax agent to determine which tax break is right for you.

5. Lifetime Learning Credit

The Lifetime Learning Credit is for anyone taking higher education classes to cover tuition and other expenses related to education. This credit is designed to help pay for undergraduate, graduate, and professional courses, including those related to improving job skills. The nice thing about this credit is that there is no limit on how many years you can use it, and it’s worth up to $2,000 each time you do.

We’d like to pause here to say that the special education expense deduction doesn’t cover homeschooling costs or any non-athletic supplies for physical education or health classes. Again, keep good records, and work with a registered tax agent to get the healthy refund you deserve as an educator.

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