Teachers Would Lose $250 Deduction for Classroom Materials Under GOP Tax Bill

By Liana Loewus — November 03, 2017 2 min read
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The tax bill proposed by Republican leaders yesterday scraps a benefit that many teachers have come to rely on: the $250 “educator expense deduction,” which can be used to recoup the cost of classroom materials.

K-12 teachers who spend money out-of-pocket on books, supplies, professional development courses, and computer equipment and software for their classrooms can claim the deduction each year, according to the IRS. Health and physical education teachers can also use it for athletic supplies. Counselors, principals, and aides who incurred such expenses can claim the deduction as well. In 2015, Congress extended the benefit indefinitely.

Teachers spend about $530 of their own money on classroom items, according to a 2016 nationally representative survey from Scholastic. In high-poverty schools, they spend about 40 percent more—an average of $672.

An Oklahoma teacher gained attention this summer by panhandling to raise money for her classroom. Photos of her begging on a highway overpass spread across social media and ultimately helped her raise $25,000 in donations.

The teachers’ unions are railing against the proposed bill for a number of reasons, including that it axes this deduction.

“As educators spend more and more of their own funds each year to buy basic essentials, Republican leaders chose to ignore the sacrifice made by those who work in our nation’s public schools to make sure students have adequate books, pencils, paper, and art supplies,” said Lily Eskelsen García, the president of the National Education Association in a statement.

Folks on Twitter are having some, well, *feelings* about the move as well.

For more details on the GOP tax bill, head over to the Politics K-12 blog.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.