How Would Typical Teachers Fare Under the GOP’s Tax Bill?

By Andrew Ujifusa — November 07, 2017 3 min read

Republican lawmakers’ proposed changes to the federal tax code are causing a stir in the education community. Teachers and others are zeroing in on the bill’s repeal of the $250 tax deduction teachers and principals can take for spending their own money on classroom supplies. But, aside from that, how could the bill impact an individual teacher’s tax bill?

Let’s examine how a couple of hypothetical teachers would fare under the legislation introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives last week and try to tease out an answer.

The following scenarios are in a world where the GOP tax bill is approved as released. Will it pass? Will lawmakers amend it? If so, how? Nobody knows the answers to those questions. Right now, House lawmakers are vigorously debating it. But let’s figure things out based on what we know is in the bill.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., defends the GOP tax reform plan during a news conference on Nov. 7 in Washington.

For this analysis, we’re leaving out a lot of factors that could affect these hypothetical teachers’ taxes. We’ve also tried to keep it relatively simple, in order to get a basic idea of how the proposed tax changes could work for many teachers.

The Average Teacher

We reported in August that the average public school teacher makes a base salary of $55,100 annually, and that this average teacher works 53 hours a week and has 14 years of teaching experience, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s School and Staffing Survey.

The Joint Committee on Taxation in Congress reported last week that under the GOP legislation, the average tax rate for individuals—not specifically teachers—making between $50,000 and $75,000 annually would on average fall from 14.8 percent to 13.6 percent in 2019. That means a $660 tax cut on average for that teacher, from $8,154 to $7,494. However, by 2027, the average tax rate would rise under the tax proposal to 14 percent for individuals in that income bracket. That would leave the average teacher with a $275 tax cut in 2027, compared to 2017.

Here’s another, somewhat broader view: The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a nonprofit research group that’s independent from Congress, reported that in 2018, under the GOP tax proposal, 87 percent of households making between $40,750 and $65,150 annually—a range that includes the average teacher in terms of salary—would get a tax cut, and that the average tax cut would be $930. Meanwhile, 8 percent of taxpayers in that income range would see an increase, with the average tax increase totaling $810.

However, in the list of factors the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy used to reach its conclusion, the repeal of the $250 deduction for classroom expenses is not included. That repeal would be a relatively small change to the tax code, but it’s the one that deals with teachers’ taxes in the most direct way.

The First-Year Teacher

As of 2012-13, the average salary for a first-year educator is $36,141 according to 2012-13 data from the National Education Association.

We don’t have a more recent national average than that. The average teacher’s salary went up by 3.7 percent from 2011-12 to 2015-16, so the average first-year teacher’s salary has likely gone up as well. But in terms of the tax bill’s impact on these new teachers, what’s important is that the average rookie teacher’s salary is still between $30,000 to $40,000, based on the Joint Tax Committee’s report. So let’s use the $36,141 figure for our calculations.

For those rookie teachers who are single, their average tax rate would fall from 7.9 to 7.2 percent. That would be an average tax cut of $253 for first-year teachers. However, by 2027, those teachers’ average rate would climb back to 7.6 percent. That would leave those teachers with an average tax cut of $109 in 2027, compared to 2017.

Again, those calculations assume the person is filing as an individual, as many first-year teachers are, and not jointly with a spouse.

Keep in mind that this bill still has a long way to go through the House and Senate.

Related Tags:

Assistant Editor Liana Heitin Loewus contributed to this article.

Let us know what you think!

We’re looking for feedback on our new site to make sure we continue to provide you the best experience.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Future of Work Webinar
Digital Literacy Strategies to Promote Equity
Our new world has only increased our students’ dependence on technology. This makes digital literacy no longer a “nice to have” but a “need to have.” How do we ensure that every student can navigate
Content provided by Learning.com
Mathematics Online Summit Teaching Math in a Pandemic
Attend this online summit to ask questions about how COVID-19 has affected achievement, instruction, assessment, and engagement in math.
School & District Management Webinar Examining the Evidence: Catching Kids Up at a Distance
As districts, schools, and families navigate a new normal following the abrupt end of in-person schooling this spring, students’ learning opportunities vary enormously across the nation. Access to devices and broadband internet and a secure

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Data Analyst
New York, NY, US
New Visions for Public Schools
Project Manager
United States
K12 Inc.
High School Permanent Substitute Teacher
Woolwich Township, NJ, US
Kingsway Regional School District
MS STEM Teacher
Woolwich Township, NJ, US
Kingsway Regional School District

Read Next

Federal Who Is Miguel Cardona? Education Secretary Pick Has Roots in Classroom, Principal's Office
Many who've worked with Joe Biden's pick for education secretary say he's ready for what would be a giant step up.
15 min read
Miguel Cardona, first-time teacher, in his fourth-grade classroom at Israel Putnam School in Meriden, Ct. in August of 1998.
Miguel Cardona, chosen to lead the U.S. Department of Education, photographed in his 4th-grade classroom at Israel Putnam School in Meriden, Conn., in 1998.
Courtesy of the Record-Journal
Federal Obama Education Staff Involved in Race to the Top, Civil Rights Join Biden's White House
Both Catherine Lhamon and Carmel Martin will serve on President-elect Joe Biden's Domestic Policy Council.
4 min read
Federal Opinion What Conservatives Should Be for When It Comes to Education
Education is ultimately about opportunity, community, and empowerment, and nothing should resonate more deeply with the conservative heart.
3 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Federal Opinion What the Assault on the Capitol Means for Educators
Last week's assault on the seat of the American government points to a larger civic challenge that we must address together.
4 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty