Can a Pre-K Teacher Take the Teachers' Deduction on the 1040?
Pre-kindergarten, or pre-K, teachers often work long hours preparing preschool students for regular school and may incur expenses such as books, educational materials and classroom decorations. The Educator Expense Deduction allows teachers to deduct up to $250 of expenses that they do not have to itemize, but preschool teachers are not eligible for this deduction as of 2013. Some states, however, offer state income tax deductions for preschool teachers, and preschool teachers are still eligible for other employee business expense deductions.
As of 2013, to qualify for the teachers' tax deduction, you must must work at least 900 hours per year in a primary or secondary school. You must also be a teacher, counselor, principal or aide teaching or serving in administration for kindergarten through 12th grade. Preschool teachers don't meet these requirements, even if you exceed the 900-hour-per-year threshold or are licensed to teach primary or secondary school.
State income tax laws sometimes offer additional deductions to teachers, but most preschool teachers have been left out of these laws as well. Texas, for example, attempted to expand the teacher deduction on state income taxes to include preschool teachers in 2011. This bill, however, died in committee.
Preschool Teacher Deductions
If you're a preschool teacher, you can deduct supplies that exceed 2 percent of your adjusted gross income. You are also eligible for other business expenses. Travel for field trips, educational activities and to meet with students or their parents is deductible at the standard mileage deduction rate -- 56.5 cents per mile as of 2013. If you have to pay to maintain your license or you attend continuing education classes, you can also deduct the costs of these classes as well as any supplies you need for them. Unreimbursed business expenses -- such as a computer for your classroom, classroom furniture or activities for students -- are also deductible.
How to Deduct
The teachers' tax deduction offers the advantage of not having to itemize, but preschool teachers generally must itemize their deductions. Most of these deductions can be itemized on Schedule A of your tax return. Form 2106 is for deducting employee business expenses, while you'll need to use Form 2106-EZ to deduct unreimbursed business expenses.
Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.