It’s April, and you know what that means — tax season.
For most workers, that means trying to deduct as many job-related expenses as possible to lower their taxable income. Those deductions can be substantial in many professions, but for teachers, that may not be the case.
Unfortunately for educators, the reality is that they are spending far more out of pocket on classroom supplies than what can be deducted from their taxes.
The educator expense deduction was enacted just over 20 years ago in 2002, giving teachers the ability to deduct up to $250 of out-of-pocket classroom expenses when filing their federal tax returns.
For the 2022 tax year being filed now, the maximum deduction has only increased ever so slightly to just $300.
If the maximum educator expense education had kept pace with inflation since its passing in 2002, teachers would be able to deduct over $400 in expenses, but that’s not the case. And even still, that wouldn’t be enough to cover what teachers actually have to spend to get their classrooms up and running for their students.
Our data shows that the typical teacher spent an average of $820.14 out of pocket on school supplies in 2022 — the largest amount ever.
That means teachers are spending 2.7 times more on classroom expenses than what they can deduct.
In all, teachers across the US spent an estimated $3 billion on essential items to help their students succeed, like pencils, paper, cleaning supplies, books, software, and other materials.
Many teachers have expressed frustration with the current system, feeling like it doesn’t reflect the true cost of setting up and running a classroom. Educators are essential to our communities, yet they’re not being provided with the financial support they need to do their job effectively.
$2,000 would be more realistic.
— Dale Batko MBA M.Ed. 🇺🇸 (@BatkoDale) January 24, 2023
Pencils, ball point pens(blue & black), red pens, colored pencils, glue sticks, notebook paper, flash drives, TPT Resources, meals, snacks, waters, spirit wear, comfortable shoes, motivational posters, letters, boarders…every single year! I’d blow through 300$ in the first week!
— elainepangle (@elainepangle281) January 26, 2023
It’s $750-$1,000. School budgets don’t buy tape or staples anymore, let alone books for my classroom library.
— John Bergeland (@CoachBergeland) January 24, 2023
So teachers get to claim $300 on education expenses on their tax forms this year. Hopefully it will get to $500 at some point
— Kelly D (@KellDA) August 18, 2022
And while teachers are spending more out-of-pocket money than ever before, their salaries haven’t been keeping up with inflation.
With that in mind, it’s no surprise that the country is facing a dangerous teacher shortage, spurred on by the fact that many teachers feel undervalued, underpaid, and overworked. Many teachers would point to the inadequate funding of education as a major factor in why they are not staying in the profession.
Teachers should not have to pay out of pocket for school supplies.
— Irishrygirl (@irishrygirl) August 15, 2022
It’s clear that teachers feel they need more support from our government and our country to help alleviate the financial burden they face each year for out-of-pocket expenses related to their classrooms.
And with a recent survey finding that 63% of educators said they’re considering leaving the profession altogether in the near future, it’s time to address the issue now before things get any worse.
If you’re a teacher, we want to hear from you. How much do you spend in an average school year on supplies for your classroom?