Tax Tips for Teachers


Teachers, can you deduct money you spend on classroom supplies for your students?

First, frustrated by how complicated and difficult and needlessly expensive back to school shopping was, we decided to create an app ( that would make the process a more affordable breeze for parents. Then we found out that teachers were spending their own money on school supplies for their classrooms.

We didn’t realize how bad the situation was until we heard from teachers on our Facebook page that teachers were spending even more than we thought and not only on school supplies but even food and clothing for their students. The stories we heard were unimaginable, especially for a wealthy country like our own.

So we decided to give all the referral fees we get from Amazon back to the first 3000 teachers who use school-up.

Then we realized that teachers didn’t even know that they can deduct a large portion or all of the money they spent on their students and classrooms. So we got our accounting firm, FLIGEL, BRINT & CO., CPAs TAX TIPS, INC., to write a brief summary for teachers. Please check with your own accountants as state laws vary, but the below should at least provide you with some basic background information to forward to your own accountants.

As of 2016, eligible educators (see list below) can deduct up to $250 of any unreimbursed classroom expenses for supplies such as materials, books, software, professional development courses and athletic equipment in the case of Phys Ed teachers.

This $250 educator expense deduction is advantageous because it is an “above-the-line” deduction, which means you do not have to itemize it, and taking it reduces your overall adjusted gross income (AGI).

Any classroom expenses in excess of this $250 can also be deducted as unreimbursed employee business expenses.  Providing you have receipts and providing such deductions do exceed 2 percent of your AGI. If your spouse is also an educator, these amounts apply to each of you individually.

You are an eligible educator for the 2016 tax year, providing you work a minimum of 900 hours per school year in one of the following roles:

  • Teacher
  • Instructor
  • Counselor
  • Principal
  • Aide

This applies to both elementary and secondary education as defined under state law.

Finally, be sure to save all your receipts related to classroom expenses. The IRS suggests you keep these records for 3 years from the date of filing your return.

Good luck teachers and have an awesome school year!!! Remember, can help your parents save money and time in back to school shopping, and help you with your classroom supply costs.