Eligible educators can deduct up to $250 ($500 if married, filing jointly and both spouses are educators, but not more than $250 each) of any unreimbursed expenses in 2016 for books, supplies, computer equipment (including related software and services), other equipment and supplementary materials they use in the classroom, according to the IRS. For courses in health and physical education, expenses for supplies are qualified expenses only if they are related to athletics. The educator expense is an “adjustment to gross income” so you can use it if you use the standard deduction or itemize on your tax return. In addition, if you itemize deductions, you can deduct any excess of unreimbursed educator expenses above the $250 limit as a miscellaneous deduction.
Your union dues are also eligible as a miscellaneous deduction, along with other common items such as tax preparation fees, unreimbursed employee expenses and some job-search expenses. The total of your miscellaneous deductions, however, are reduced by 2 percent of your income.
You should keep documentation such as receipts or canceled checks for any deduction you take. For more information, see IRS Publication 529 for miscellaneous deductions and IRS Publication 17 for all income-tax questions.