As an educator, you may find that many times, you spend your own money for school supplies that your students use in your class. All those pens, crayons, papers and other school materials that you have purchased do add up by the end of the year. In fact, it can take out a portion of your take home salary.
One way to offset this expenditure is to write if off your taxes. As a teacher, you are allowed a certain amount of school supplies purchased off your taxes. Here’s how to get it done.
- Make sure you qualify to write off the deduction. Not everyone can write off teacher supplies on their taxes. First of all, you need to be a teacher to do it. To qualify for this deduction, you need to have at least put in 900 hours of class time. These teaching hours can be accumulated from teaching at any private or public school, between the levels of kindergarten to twelfth grade. You also don’t have to be a full time teacher to do this. Even part time teachers can claim the deduction as long as they meet the minimum required hours of classroom time.
- Keep your receipts. As you go about making purchases throughout the year, you should carefully set aside the receipts so that when tax time comes, you have something to present to your accountant or tax attorney. Save the receipts in a separate file and mark it clearly. If both you and your spouse are teachers and would like to claim, you can claim up to $500 worth of school supplies as long as you both qualify and are filing your tax income form jointly.
- Write off up to $250 in school supplies. Each teacher is allowed by the IRS to file up to $250 in school supplies used for the classroom in the course of teaching. This can range from ordinary school supplies to necessary school supplies as defined by the IRS. Some examples of items that you can write off are pens, rulers, maps, reference books, games and educational toys you use in the classroom, as well as computer software programs that you use as a teaching aid. You may also deduct art supplies and craft supplies that you use for the projects you create at school. If you buy musical instruments and you are heading a music or choral class, you may also deduct these expenses, as well as sheet music and other paraphernalia related to the class that you are teaching.
- Claim only what you are unable to get reimbursement for. Some schools have the budget to reimburse you for the school supplies you have personally purchased for your student’s use. If this is the case, then you cannot get a deduction on the portion of the amount that you have been reimbursed for. You may only claim on your tax forms the amount that was not reimbursed.
- Work with an accountant to ensure the proper preparation of your tax forms. When it comes to filing your taxes, it’s best to work with a professional preparer to avoid confusion and so you can properly deduct what you are eligible for.
Make sure that you file your taxes in a timely manner. Also, be careful about the items that you are scheduling on your tax forms. Keep in mind that you should stay within the legal parameters when in comes to deductions. If you list too many items or try to pass off things that shouldn’t be included, you may end up with a problematic tax audit. As long as you write off what is allowed and you file properly, you shouldn’t have any problems.