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Industry Reports

US Teachers Spent $3.24 Billion of Their Own Money on Classroom Expenses in 2023

Teachers are spending nearly 3x more on classroom supplies than they're able to write off.

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By Scott Winstead


teacher spending 2023

Tax season is upon us, and for most workers, that means it’s time to start tallying up all of those job-related expenses to lower their taxable income as much as possible. While these deductions can really add up for workers in many professions, that’s unfortunately not really the case for teachers.

Despite the rising costs of educational materials, the educator expense deduction is capped at just $300 for the 2023 tax year. This figure, while recently increased to this amount last year, has only very slightly budged since its introduction in 2002 when it was a $250 allowance, failing to keep pace with inflation or the actual expenses incurred by educators.

If the educator expense deduction had kept up with inflation since it started in 2002, teachers would be able to knock off more than $428 from their taxable income for classroom expenses.

Sadly, that’s not what’s happening. And even if it was, that amount still wouldn’t come close to covering the real costs teachers shell out to make their classrooms ready and welcoming for their students.

Our latest research reveals that the average teacher spent $853.90 out of pocket on school supplies in 2023, setting a new record for the highest amount ever reported. This is a significant increase from last year and underscores the growing financial burden shouldered by educators.

The discrepancy between the allowable tax deduction and actual spending means that teachers are spending nearly 2.8 times more on classroom supplies than they can deduct.

Collectively, teachers in the United States spent an estimated $3.24 billion on essential classroom items in 2023, like pencils, paper, cleaning supplies, books, software, and other materials.

Here’s a breakdown of the estimated total teacher spending by state in 2023:

State2023 Teacher Spending
Alabama$39.7M
Alaska$6.5M
Arizona$53M
Arkansas$27.3M
California$250.7M
Colorado$49.1M
Connecticut$35.6M
Delaware$8.4M
District of Columbia$6.1M
Florida$121.7M
Georgia$99.8M
Hawaii$9.6M
Idaho$14.5M
Illinois$111.3M
Indiana$53.1M
Iowa$32.2M
Kansas$30.3M
Kentucky$34.1M
Louisiana$40.9M
Maine$12.7M
Maryland$53.0M
Massachusetts$64.2M
Michigan$69.8M
Minnesota$45.9M
Mississippi$27.0M
Missouri$64.4M
Montana$9.1M
Nebraska$21.6M
Nevada$20.4M
New Hampshire$14.1M
New Jersey$100.7M
New Mexico$17.8M
New York$181.7M
North Carolina$80.2M
North Dakota$8.7M
Ohio$96.8M
Oklahoma$37.0M
Oregon$25.7M
Pennsylvania$102.4M
Rhode Island$9.3M
South Carolina$43.6M
South Dakota$8.3M
Tennessee$53.0M
Texas$310.1M
Utah$25.7M
Vermont$7.1M
Virginia$86.9M
Washington$53.9M
West Virginia$16.0M
Wisconsin$47.8M
Wyoming$6.2M

The financial strain of out-of-pocket expenses, coupled with salaries that also haven’t kept pace with inflation, is just one more reason so many teachers say they feel undervalued and overburdened, with a significant number considering leaving the profession due to financial pressures and a lack of support.

1 thought on “US Teachers Spent $3.24 Billion of Their Own Money on Classroom Expenses in 2023”

  1. I’m a reading teacher, a 10 hours per week position in a public school. I’ve spent more than $150 on books for my students this year. As the school year has months to go, I anticipate another $200 will come out of my pocket. Why? Because every child deserves decent books and the district isn’t going to pay for them.

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