Issue Number: COVID Tax Tip 2021-169
Teachers can deduct out-of-pocket classroom expenses including COVID-19 protective items
Fall is here and another school year is in full swing. Many teachers are already dipping into their own pockets to buy classroom supplies that will help set their students up for success. Doing this all year long can add up fast. Fortunately, eligible educators may be able to offset qualified expenses they paid in 2021 when they file their tax return in 2022.
Educators who work in schools may qualify to deduct up to $250 of unreimbursed expenses. That amount goes up to $500 if two qualified educators are married and file a joint return. However, neither spouse can deduct more than $250 of their qualified expenses when they file their federal tax return.
Taxpayers qualify for this deduction if they:
- Teach any grade from kindergarten through twelfth grade.
- Are a teacher, instructor, counselor, principal or aide.
- Work at least 900 hours during the school year.
- Work in a school that provides elementary or secondary education.
Qualified expenses include:
- Professional development courses.
- Computer equipment including related software and services.
- Supplementary materials.
- Athletic supplies only for health and physical education
- Personal protective equipment, disinfectant, and other supplies used for the prevention of the spread of coronavirus.
Expenses for COVID-19 protective items. These items include, but are not limited to:
- Face masks.
- Disinfectant for use against COVID-19.
- Hand soap.
- Hand sanitizer.
- Disposable gloves.
- Tape, paint or chalk to guide social distancing.
- Physical barriers, such as clear plexiglass.
- Air purifiers.
- Other items recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to be used for the prevention of the spread of COVID-19.
This deduction is for unreimbursed expenses paid or incurred during the tax year. Taxpayers should keep records, such as receipts, and other documents that support the deduction with other tax documents. Eligible taxpayers will claim the deduction on Form 1040, Form 1040-SR, or Form 1040-NR.
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