If you are a teacher or staff member in either an elementary or secondary school, there are numerous ways that you can save on your taxes. Many teachers are aware of the $250 classroom supplies deduction they can take on their taxes as well as the Lifetime Learning Credit. However, these are not the only ways to save on your taxes as a teacher. Here are four often-forgotten ways to save on your taxes as a teacher.
#1 Union Dues
If you are a member of a teacher's union, you may be able to deduct your union dues depending on how you pay them. If you have to pay your union dues out of your paycheck after taxes have been applied to your union dues, you can deduct the expense of your union dues as a qualifying professional expense.
However, if your union dues are taken out of your paycheck before taxes are deducted, you will not be able to write off this professional expense.
#2 Professional Subscriptions & Books
Second, if you subscribe to certain magazines or publications for the professional development that they offer you, you can deduct these expenses as well. This also extends to any books that you purchase that help you improve your teaching practice and are directed towards your professional development. This is not for books for the students in your class but for books that specifically expand your teaching practice.
#3 Traveling Expenses
If you have to travel in order to attend professional conferences, seminars, conventions or trainings, all of your travel related expenses are tax-deductible. So the next time you have to head out of town for training, keep track of your mileage, parking and any tools that you have to pay; these are all tax deductible. IF you need to stay overnight due to traveling out of town for the professional development or if the event is multiple days, you can also deduct the expense of your meals and lodging that you incur.
Traveling expenses also apply for other school-sanctioned events where you have to provide your own transportation and lodging to events that are not covered by your school or school district.
#4 Charitable Donations
Many people know that you can deduct the money you donate to charity if you take an itemized deduction. However, as a teacher, it is easy to overlook when you are making a donation. If you purchase something and give it to your school, that would be a charitable donation.
For example, if you purchase a set of science books and give it to the library for students to check out, that would be a donation. If you purchase a set of science books for your individual classroom that you intend to take with you when you stop teaching at that school, it would not be a donation. It has to be something that you are donating and giving to the school itself where you work, which would be the recipient of your donation. If you plan on taking it with you should you ever leave the school or just use it in your classroom, that is not a donation.
This can be a fine line to walk, so make sure your donations are to the school and review them with your tax accountant. Contact a professional such as Heller David to learn more.