IRS Increases the Maximum Educator Expense Deduction in 2022

The Internal Revenue Service recently announced that teachers and other educators will be able to deduct up to $300 of out-of-pocket classroom expenses for 2022 when they file their federal income tax return next year.    This deduction can be claimed even if the educator is claiming the standard deduction.  An eligible educator is defined as a teacher, instructor, counselor, principal, or aide who works at least 900 hours during the school year in grades K-12.  This deduction applies to educators at both public and private schools.  Qualified expenses do not include the cost of home schooling or for nonathletic supplies for courses in health or physical education.  The IRS reminds educators claiming this deduction to keep good records, including receipts, cancelled checks, and other documentation.

While the educator expense deduction was enacted in 2002, this is the first time that the annual limit of $250 per year has been increased.  The limit will increase in $50 increments in future years, based on inflation adjustments.  Eligible educators who file a joint return with another eligible educator can deduct $600 ($300 per educator).

Eligible educators can deduct the un-reimbursed cost of:

  • Books, supplies, and other materials used in the classroom;
  • Equipment, including computer equipment, software, and services;
  • COVID-19 protective items to stop the spread of the disease in the classroom, including: 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, and other items recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and
  • Professional development courses related to the curriculum they teach or the students they teach.   Note that the IRS cautions that, for these expenses, it may be more beneficial to claim another educational tax benefit, especially the lifetime learning credit. For more information, please see: Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education, particularly Chapter 3.

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