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Lawmakers Eye Educator Tax Credit

Assemblyman Jake Blumencranz, R-Oyster Bay, is pictured speaking on the floor of the state Assembly during this year’s legislative session.

It’s a little late for Teacher’s Appreciation Day, but state legislators are eyeing a tax deduction for items teachers purchase for their classrooms.

Assemblyman Jake Blumencranz, R-Oyster Bay, recently introduced A.10157, with a companion bill (S.9618) introduced a few days afterward by Sen. Steve Rhoads, R-Massapequa. The legislation would create a personal income tax deduction from educators’ state income taxes up to $300 of unreimbursed expenses from the taxable year for books, supplies, computer equipment (including related software and services), other equipment and supplementary classroom materials.

The bill could be taken up when the legislature starts its next session in January.

Households in which both tax filers are teachers could claim up to $600. For courses in health or physical education, the expenses for supplies must be for athletic supplies. Educators would be eligible for the tax credit if they work in a kindergarten through 12th grade classroom as a teacher, instructor, counselor, principal or aide for at least 900 hours during a school year.

“The purpose of this legislation is to recognize the financial burden placed on educators who often use personal funds to provide necessary supplies for their classrooms,” Blumencranz and Rhoads wrote in their legislative justification. “By offering a tax deduction, some of this burden will be alleviated and incentivize teachers to continue investing in their students’ learning environments. This legislation will provide financial relief to teachers and recognize their invaluable contributions of educators to society. This legislation will further encourage the maintenance and improvement of classroom environments without placing undue strain on teachers’ personal finances.”

State Sen. Steve Rhoads, R-Massapequa, speaks during a news conference in May.

In September, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, announced the introduction of the Educators Expense Deduction Modernization Act to quadruple the amount educators can deduct from their taxes for out-of-pocket classroom expenses. The current federal deduction for teachers is $250, an amount Brown and his co-sponsors want to increase to $1,000.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, 94% of public school teachers reportedly paid for classroom supplies without reimbursement. Teachers spend an average of $800 in out-of-pocket expenses on supplies each year, with nearly 1 in 10 reportedly spending more than $1,000 each year.

“Teachers work hard to support our students, yet they aren’t paid nearly the salaries and benefits they deserve, and they often spend hundreds of dollars of their hard-earned money on supplies for their classrooms,” Brown said. “Ohio educators shouldn’t have to dip into their too-small paychecks simply to do their jobs. We need to allow teachers to deduct more of those costs from their taxes, so they can ensure Ohio students get the education they deserve.”

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