Tax tips for teachers


ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Teachers have the opportunity to take advantage of certain deductions on their 2020 tax returns.

CPA Michelle Staebell of the New York State Society of CPAs discussed the deduction options and amounts Thursday during News 8 at Sunrise.

“Each educator who works in a K-12 school district and works at least 900 hours in a school year could deduct up to $250 of qualified expenses that they paid out-of-pocket,” Staebell said. “So if two taxpayers are married and filing a joint return it could be a $500 deduction on their tax return.”

Staebell noted this applies for K-12 educators, principals, aides – anyone working with kids in a school district – but not preschool-age educators or college faculty.

Among the items that can be deducted is Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE. “PPE can be deducted as long as it was purchased after March 12, 2020 – so once the pandemic hit,” noted Staebell. “So if educators purchased supplies, equipment, training, conferences – if they paid for anything out-of-pocket that’s all included for all of 2020 and then after that March 12, 2020 date – if they purchased PPE for the classroom then they could also include that as long as they get to that $250 of out-of-pocket expenses then they can max out that deduction on their tax return.”

Staebell said this deduction is available to any qualified educator, even if they take the Standard Deduction on their tax return. If a teacher is reimbursed by the school district, then the expense cannot be deducted on the tax return.

One deduction not available for teachers is the home office deduction. Educators who worked from home during the COVID-19 pandemic cannot deduct that home space on their tax return.

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