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A popular tax break for teachers is expanded

Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 8.13.10 AMA popular tax break for teachers is now permanent thanks to the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act. The Act makes it permanent for tax years 2015 and beyond, expands the deduction to cover professional development and indexes its $250 limit for inflation.

The Educator Expense Deduction allows eligible teachers to deduct up to $250 ($500 if both spouses are teachers and filing join returns) of any unreimbursed expenses for items such as books, supplies, computer equipment and software, and other supplementary materials used in the classroom. A 2015 survey found that 71% of teachers spent $200 or more out-of-pocket on school supplies. The average was $490 per year.

The definition of qualified expenses has been expanded to cover expenses paid for professional development courses related to their curriculum. Eligible educators include teachers, instructors, counselors principals, and aides in private or public elementary or secondary schools teaching kindergarten through 12th grade. The teacher must also work at least 900 hours per school year. For more information, check out this IRS guide.