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Tax deductions for teachers

If you are a teacher, you should receive a Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, from the educational institution employing you. You can still deduct up to $250 of out of pocket classroom expenses if you are a teacher or aide in school systems for grades K-12. If your spouse is also a teacher, you may each deduct no more than $250 a piece. This is considered an adjustment to income and is not part of Itemized Deductions.  

Payments that you receive for providing services as a tutor, in addition to your regular job, may be considered income from self-employment and must be reported on a Schedule C, Profit or Loss from Business. Examples include tutoring high school students and college students after school or providing music lessons to any individual (voice, piano, drums, guitar, etc.) on the weekends. If you are self-employed and your net earnings are $400 or more, you must pay self-employment tax on the income you report on Schedule C. In addition, you may need to make estimated payments to cover the amount of self-employment tax or income tax associated with the income you report on Schedule C.

You can claim a credit for education expenses for continuing education requirements (as long as you pay for the courses), as well as education to get a higher degree such as a Masters or Ph.D. If you are self-employed and the education is part of your state school board's certification renewal process, it may be deductible on your Schedule C. However, if the education is needed to meet the minimum educational requirements to qualify you for a particular position, it is not deductible on your Schedule C. You may be able to claim a Lifetime Learning Credit for your courses even if they aren’t allowed as a Schedule C deduction. 

While you can no longer claim out-of-pocket cost for supplies as a miscellaneous itemized deduction, the Educator Expenses deduction is still available for teachers. If your work at least 900 hours in a classroom, you can deduct up to $250 of unreimbursed classroom expenses directly from your taxable income. The expenses must be for classroom items, such as bulletin board materials, student supplies, classroom supplies, student lunch money fund, etc. If your spouse is also a teacher and you file jointly, each of you can claim up to $250. You should use Form 1040, Schedule 1 to claim the Educator Expense deduction. 

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