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Deductions available to educators when filing taxes

New York Teacher

Eligible educators can deduct from their federal income taxes up to $250 of unreimbursed expenses from 2020 for books, supplies, computer equipment (including related software and services), other equipment and supplementary materials they use in the classroom, according to the IRS.

If you are married, filing jointly and both spouses are educators, you can deduct up to $500, but not more than $250 each. For courses in health and physical education, expenses for supplies are qualified expenses only if they are related to athletics.

The educator expense deduction is an “adjustment to gross income” so you can use it whether you use the standard deduction or itemize on your tax return.

To be eligible for this deduction, you must work for at least 900 hours during a school year at a school that provides elementary or secondary education as a teacher, instructor, counselor, principal or aide.

You should keep documentation, such as receipts or canceled checks, for any deductions you take.

Unionized employees may no longer deduct their union dues on their federal tax returns following the overhaul of federal tax law in 2017. But thanks to UFT lobbying, union members in New York State can deduct the full amount of union dues from their state taxes if they itemize deductions on their state tax return.

For all income tax questions, see IRS Publication 529 for miscellaneous deductions and IRS Publication 17, a guide for individuals. Both are available online.
If you are not sure whether you are entitled to a deduction, or you have any other questions regarding your tax returns, consult a tax adviser.