If you’re a teacher, you likely are dipping into your own pocket to buy classroom supplies needed to help your students. With the COVID-19 pandemic, this likely has become even more common for you, as COVID-19 protective supplies have been added to the mix of things needed.

Fortunately, teachers and other qualified educators may be able to offset qualified expenses paid in 2021 when you file your tax return in 2022.

Educators who work in schools may qualify to deduct up to $250 of unreimbursed expenses. That amount goes up to $500 if two qualified educators are married and file a joint return. However, neither spouse can deduct more than $250 of their own qualified expenses when they file their federal tax return.

By the way, the State of Arkansas allows a deduction of $500 per educator, for a $1,000 total for married couples, if both spouses are educators.

You qualify for this deduction if you:

Teach any grade from kindergarten through twelfth grade.

Are a teacher, instructor, counselor, principal or aide.

Work at least 900 hours during the school year.

Work in a school that provides elementary or secondary education.

The list of qualified expenses includes:

Professional development courses.

Books.

Supplies.

Computer equipment including related software and services.

Supplementary materials.

Athletic supplies only for health and physical education

Personal protective equipment, disinfectant, and other supplies used for the prevention of the spread of coronavirus.

Also included are expenses for COVID-19 protective items. This would include, but are not limited to:

Face masks.

Disinfectant for use against COVID-19.

Hand soap.

Hand sanitizer.

Disposable gloves.

Tape, paint or chalk to guide social distancing.

Physical barriers, such as clear plexiglass.

Air purifiers.

Other items recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to be used for the prevention of the spread of COVID-19.

This deduction is for unreimbursed expenses paid or incurred during the tax year. Further, this deduction is considered “above the line”, meaning it can be taken regard regardless of whether you itemize deductions or claim the standard deduction.

As with everything tax related, you need to keep good records, such as receipts, and other documents that support the deduction.

Educators, you are amazing servant heroes! Your service and sacrifice doesn’t go unnoticed, and that sacrifice no doubt includes financial issues. Hopefully, knowing about and using this special deduction can ease a little bit of that burden.

Lane Keeter, CPA is Office Managing Partner of the Heber Springs Office of EGP, PLLC, CPAs & Consultants (www.egpcpas.com), a full-service financial firm with offices around Arkansas, and winner of The Sun-Times Reader’s Choice Award for Best Accountant

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