As summer ends and the youngest members of our families head back to their K-12 classrooms, school-related expenses are on the horizon! Hidden in some of those school expenses are tax deductions you may be able to claim.
- Watch for tax deductions on the supply list. Schools often send a list of requested supplies for the school year. Some of the items on the list are clearly for personal use (such as an eraser or a ruler) while other items on the list are often for school use and classroom use (such as 24 pencils or paper towels). Keep track of these non-cash classroom/school donations for possible charitable deductions, assuming you expect to itemize. Better yet, donate money to purchase supplies instead.
- Donate funds versus taking the raffle ticket. Raffles, subscription drives and silent auctions are fun ways schools raise money. To maximize your ability to deduct your donations, forgo the possible prize. If you win, the fair market value of the prize is deducted from your gift. If you don’t win, the entire donation is deductible. Remember to ask for a receipt when making the donation.
- Don’t forget your out-of-pocket expenses for your volunteer activities. Perhaps you donate your time at school functions, donate books to the school library, or help assist the teaching staff. Your out-of-pocket expenses and mileage should be tracked for charitable deduction purposes. Unfortunately, the value of your time is not deductible.
- Teachers, save your out-of-pocket expenses. A recent survey found that 94 percent of teachers spend their own money on classroom supplies — some as much as $1,000 per school year. On your 2022 tax return, teachers are allowed to deduct $300 on their tax return even if they claim the standard deduction. If you’re married to another teacher, you can deduct up to $600 of classroom supplies.
- Use checks, not cash. If you usually provide donations to the school in the form of cash (like providing additional money to help other kids go on field trips) make those donations in the form of a check. The check will serve to prove your donation.
Finally, don’t forget to review state rules for educational expenses. There are often credits available for out-of-pocket school and other educational expenses.