The educator expense deduction has been increased for this year. Now teachers and other educators can deduct up to $300 in out-of-pocket classroom expenses when they file their 2022 federal income tax return.

Who qualifies? Anyone who, is a teacher, instructor, counselor, principal, or aide, from kindergarten through 12th grade in a school for at least 900 hours during the academic year. Those individuals are eligible to claim the educator expense deduction. Public school and private school educators qualify. Because this is an above-the-line deduction, an educator can claim it even if they take the standard deduction on their return.

What about married educators?  An educator who is married to another educator and files a joint return may deduct up to $600 ($300 for each spouse’s qualifying expenses). For 2021, the maximum educator expense deduction was $500 for married educators filing jointly ($250 for each spouse’s expenses).

What is deductible? Educators can deduct the unreimbursed cost of “qualifying expenses” including:

  • Books, supplies, and other materials used in the classroom
  • Equipment, including computer hardware, software, and services
  • COVID-19 protective items to stop the spread of the virus in the classroom
  • Professional development courses related to the curriculum or students they teach

Special Note  It may be more beneficial to claim the lifetime learning credit for professional development expenses. See  IRS Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education, particularly Chapter 3.

What isn’t deductible?  Qualified expenses do NOT include the cost of homeschooling or nonathletic supplies for courses in health or physical education.

What documentation do you need? As with all deductions and credits, educators must keep good records including receipts, canceled checks, and other documentation to substantiate any claimed deduction.