End-of-Year Parties at School: Can Teachers Deduct the Supplies?

November 14, 2017 : Diamond Lambert

Party supplies and occasional sweet treats are common classroom expenses for K-12 instructors. Let’s cover the basics of tax breaks for teachers.

 

What is the Educator Expense Deduction?

According to IRS.gov Topic Number 458 eligible instructors can deduct up to $250. This credit extends up to $500 if an educator is married to another eligible educator and filing under the status married filing jointly (up to $250 per person combined).

Common teacher classroom supplies that fit the tax deduction include:

  • Professional development courses
  • Books and educational texts
  • Instructional supplies (pens, paper, craft goods, etc.)
  • Computer equipment, software, and cloud services
  • Industry-specific equipment
  • Supplementary materials used in the classroom

 

How Do I Know I’m Eligible For Teacher Tax Deductions?

Before assessing which party supplies fall under the Educator Expense Deduction umbrella, you must first verify if you are what the IRS acknowledges as an “eligible educator.”

An “eligible educator” describes anyone in the following roles for kindergarten through 12th-grade students:

  • Teacher
  • Classroom instructor
  • School Counselor
  • School Principal
  • Classroom Aide

In addition to the roles listed above, you must spend at least 900 hours within an academic year providing elementary or secondary education as specified under your states law.

Unfortunately, the Educator Expense Deduction would not apply to homeschooling instructors or professors in college or post-secondary environments.

 

How Would I Deduct Classroom Party Supplies?

It’s possible you’re an instructor who has already purchased learning tools, software, and any other necessities you can think of. Don’t let the $250 limit scare you.

Technically, any purchases intended for work use and not covered by your employer is considered “non-reimbursed employee expenses.” Should you decide to itemize your 2017 taxes, your non-reimbursed job expenses can be deducted if they exceed 2% of your adjusted gross income. This also counts towards union dues and conference travel.

Luckily, if you just purchased a round of pizzas for the class and were wondering if you should go for an ice cream finale, you could very well be covered. However, we always recommend that you try to stick to a budget throughout the school year.

If you have other questions about tax credits for teachers, chat with your local H&R Block tax pro.

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Diamond Lambert

Diamond Lambert

Diamond Lambert, M.Sc., is a marketing manager within the advertising and brand team. She is a graduate of Franklin University holding a master's degree in marketing and mass communications. Her contributions include a mix of IRS tax news, lifestyle pieces, and consumer information.

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