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Teachers and Other School Professionals Can Deduct Unreimbursed Educator Expenses

If you are a teacher and paid for classroom supplies during 2019 out of your own pocket, you may be able to claim the Educator Expense Deduction. Qualifying educators may deduct up to $250 in unreimbursed expenses on their 2019 tax returns.

For joint filers who are both educators, the deduction limit is $500, as long as both filers have at least $250 in unreimbursed expenses. For example, if you had $350 in unreimbursed educator expenses in 2019, while your spouse had only $160 in qualifying expenses, your maximum joint deduction would be $410 ($250 for you, plus $160 for your spouse).

You are an eligible educator if you:

  • Are a teacher, counselor, principal or classroom aide at an elementary or secondary school (grades K through 12).
  • Work at least 900 hours at the school during the school year.
  • Do not receive reimbursement from your school for the educator expenses you wish to deduct.

Examples of qualifying unreimbursed expenses include:

  • Books and classroom supplies (folders, notebooks, crayons, paper, etc.)
  • Sports and athletic equipment and supplies if you teach health or physical education
  • Computer equipment, including software and peripherals like flash drives or a printer
  • Professional development workshops and courses

 Note, however, that your deduction may be limited if any of the following apply to you:

  • You exclude interest from certain U.S. savings bonds on your tax forms because you paid qualified higher education expenses.
  • You received a distribution from a qualified state tuition program that you exclude from your income.
  • You made a tax-free withdrawal from a Coverdell education savings account.
  • You received expense reimbursements from your school that are not shown in Box 1 of your form W-2.

In these cases, you can usually only deduct unreimbursed expenses to the extent that they exceed the interest, distribution, withdrawal or reimbursement that you received

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Job Search Expenses Can be Tax Deductible

If you are looking for a new job that is in the same line of work, you may be able to deduct some of your job hunting expenses on your federal income tax return.

Here are seven things about deducting costs related to your job search:

  1. To qualify for a deduction, your expenses must be spent on a job search in your current occupation. You may not deduct expenses you incur while looking for a job in a new occupation.
  2. You can deduct employment and outplacement agency fees you pay while looking for a job in your present occupation. If your employer pays you back in a later year for employment agency fees, you must include the amount you received in your gross income, up to the amount of your tax benefit in the earlier year.
  3. You can deduct amounts you spend for preparing and mailing copies of your résumé to prospective employers as long as you are looking for a new job in your present occupation.
  4. If you travel to look for a new job in your present occupation, you may be able to deduct travel expenses to and from the area to which you travelled. You can only deduct the travel expenses if the trip is primarily to look for a new job. The amount of time you spend on personal activity unrelated to your job search compared to the amount of time you spend looking for work is important in determining whether the trip is primarily personal or is primarily to look for a new job.
  5. You cannot deduct your job search expenses if there was a substantial break between the end of your last job and the time you begin looking for a new one.
  6. You cannot deduct job search expenses if you are looking for a job for the first time.
  7. In order to be deductible, the amount that you spend for job search expenses, combined with other miscellaneous expenses, must exceed a certain threshold. To determine your deduction, use Schedule A, Itemized Deductions. Job search expenses are claimed as a miscellaneous itemized deduction. The amount of your miscellaneous deduction that exceeds two percent of your adjusted gross income is deductible.
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TIP: Summer Day Camp Expenses May Qualify for a Tax Credit

Along with the lazy, hazy days of summer come some extra expenses, including summer day camp. But, the IRS has some good news for parents: those added expenses may help you qualify for a tax credit.

Many parents who work or are looking for work must arrange for care of their children under 13 years of age during the school vacation.

Here are five facts the IRS wants you to know about a tax credit available for child care expenses. The Child and Dependent Care Credit is available for expenses incurred during the summer and throughout the rest of the year.

  1. The cost of day camp may count as an expense towards the child and dependent care credit.
  2. Expenses for overnight camps do not qualify.
  3. Whether your childcare provider is a sitter at your home or a daycare facility outside the home, you’ll get some tax benefit if you qualify for the credit.
  4. The credit can be up to 35 percent of your qualifying expenses, depending on your income.
  5. You may use up to $3,000 of the unreimbursed expenses paid in a year for one qualifying individual or $6,000 for two or more qualifying individuals to figure the credit.
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