This month, teachers say goodbye to the days of summer and embark on another new school year.
If you are a teacher, you have a lot of planning to do for the upcoming year, but with the end of the calendar year fast approaching, you should also be planning for your tax deductions.
Here are four tips to save you money on your taxes.
- Keep track of classroom materials you buy. If you own a home or have large deductible expenses, keep track of your classroom expenses. These include classroom supplies, materials, books, computer equipment, software, other equipment, and supplementary materials that you pay from your own pocket, as long as you didn’t receive reimbursement. You can claim up to $300 regardless of whether you itemize your deductions or not. If you and your spouse are both teachers (grades K-12) and married filing jointly you can claim up to $600 ($300 each).
- Claim a home office deduction if you qualify. Many teachers won’t qualify unless they have a specific place in their home that is used exclusively for business activities. Grading papers at home for your teaching job doesn’t count as business activities. But if you tutor children in your home office or do classes over the internet, those activities might qualify you for the deduction.
- Keep track of mileage. If you coach a sport or lead after-school activities away from your school, track your mileage to and from the location for the activities. If you do homeschooling and regularly call on students, or if you drive from school to school, the miles can really add up. You can deduct 65.5 cents a mile for all business miles driven if you itemize your deductions.
- Deduct continuing education expenses. If you are taking classes towards a Master’s degree or to improve your job skills, the Lifetime Learning Credit allows you to take a tax credit of 20% of tuition and fees for all college or vocational classes that you take up to $2,000, which is a handsome reward for keeping track of those expenses. And best of all, you don’t have to itemize your deductions to claim this credit.
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