The Educator Expenses Tax Deduction

Eligible teachers can claim up to $300

Teacher in front of class

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The educator expense deduction is an adjustment to income, an above-the-line deduction that's applied before you decide whether to take the standard deduction or itemize your deductions.

Key Takeaways

  • The IRS allows elementary and secondary school teachers to claim up to $300 of qualified expenses as an above-the-line adjustment to income for the 2022 tax year.
  • You do not need to itemize deductions to take advantage of this deduction.
  • Aides, counselors, and principals can also qualify for this deduction

Claiming the Deduction

The IRS allows you to claim the educator expenses deduction if you're a teacher and you've paid for classroom supplies or other materials out of your own pocket during the tax year. You don't have to go through all the fuss and trouble of itemizing to claim it because it's an adjustment to income.

It also reduces your adjusted gross income (AGI), which is important because you can become ineligible for certain tax benefits if your AGI is too high.


You can still subtract the standard deduction or the total of your itemized deductions from your AGI to arrive at your taxable income. Adjustments to income, including the educator expense deduction, are in addition to these other tax breaks.

Qualifying for the Deduction

You must be a teacher, aide, instructor, counselor, or principal to qualify for the educator expense deduction, and you must have worked at least 900 hours during the school year in a school that's certified by your state. The school can be a public, private, or religious institution.

Only grade school and high school educators qualify. People with homeschool, preschool, or college educator costs don't qualify for this deduction.


If you begin your teaching career in September, you most likely would not be able to claim the deduction in that year because you wouldn't reach 900 hours by December 31.

What Expenses Can Be Deducted?

Most things you spend money on as an educator qualify for the deduction, provided that you bought them for use in your classroom and your school or teacher's union hasn't reimbursed you for them. The supplies must be "ordinary and necessary." They're items that are commonly accepted and used in a classroom, and your students benefited from them.

Some common deductible expenses include:

  • Books
  • Supplies
  • Computer equipment, software, and services
  • Supplementary materials used in the classroom
  • Health or physical education courses related to athletics

The Tax Relief Act of 2020 additionally allows you to deduct expenses for supplies necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in classrooms, including:

  • Face masks
  • Disposable gloves
  • Disinfectants
  • Hand soap and sanitizers
  • Air purifiers
  • Tape, chalk, or paint to mark off areas of social distancing
  • Physical barriers, such as plexiglass

Other items can be eligible as well if they're recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These expenses must have been incurred after March 12, 2020.


You can also deduct the costs of professional development courses you take—presuming that no one reimburses you.

Deduction Limits

According to a survey from, during the 2020-2021 school year, teachers spent $750 of their own money on classroom supplies. The amount you can claim as an educator expense is capped at $300 for the 2022 tax year, however. You can each claim up to $300 in expenses for a total of $600 on a joint tax return if both you and your spouse are educators.


One spouse can't claim $400 while the other spouse claims $200 for the $600 total. Each spouse's qualifying expenses are capped at $300.

Other Restrictions and Limitations

Your deduction can be reduced by certain factors. You must subtract from your deduction any tax-advantaged funds, such as from a Coverdell education savings account, that you used to pay for your own schooling or professional development courses.

Your deduction is limited to the amount of your teaching expenses that exceed any interest earned on Series EE or U.S. savings bonds if you've excluded this interest from your taxable income because you used the money to pay for educational expenses.

Employee Business Expenses

It used to be that you could deduct the balance of your expenses as unreimbursed employee business expenses if they exceeded the limit. But this required teachers to itemize their deductions and it was a miscellaneous deduction. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act eliminated that deduction beginning in 2018 through at least 2025.

Keep Accurate Records

It's a good idea to keep a file dedicated to your educator's expenses. Save receipts and make notes as to what you purchased, when you made the purchases, and why.

The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015 made the above-the-line educator expense deduction permanent, however, and it indexed it for inflation, too. Although the limit remained at $250 from 2015 through 2021, it increased to $300 for the 2022 tax year.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How much can teachers deduct for school supplies?

A teacher can deduct up to $300 in unreimbursed expenses for tax year 2022. School supplies includes books and other supplies, computers, computer software, and computer services that an eligible teacher uses in the classroom. You have to have worked at least 900 hours as a teacher in the tax year you're taking the deduction.

Do I need receipts for educator expenses?

You need receipts if you take an educator expense deduction. Keep any school supplies purchases separate from any personal purchases, and save the receipts from those purchases in a separate file so that you can prove you bought the supplies when tax time comes around.

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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Internal Revenue Service. "Topic No. 458 Educator Expense Deduction."

  2. Internal Revenue Service. "Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax."

  3. Internal Revenue Service. "New School Year Reminder to Educators; Maximum Educator Expense Deduction Rises to $300 in 2022."

  4. Internal Revenue Service. "Educators Can Now Deduct Out-of-Pocket Expenses for COVID-19 Protective Items."

  5. Tax Policy Center. "How Did the TCJA Change the Standard Deduction and Itemized Deductions?"

  6. Internal Revenue Service. "Rev. Proc. 2021-45," Page 13.

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