IRS allows teachers to deduct unreimbursed PPE expenses

  • Stebe Rivera, head custodian at Harry D. Jacobs High School in Algonquin, shows some of the updated disinfection procedures to battle COVID-19 in July.

    Stebe Rivera, head custodian at Harry D. Jacobs High School in Algonquin, shows some of the updated disinfection procedures to battle COVID-19 in July. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • This photo from July 2020 shows the cafeteria at Harry D. Jacobs High School in Algonquin, where dividers are used to separate tables as part of the updated safety procedures to battle COVID-19.

    This photo from July 2020 shows the cafeteria at Harry D. Jacobs High School in Algonquin, where dividers are used to separate tables as part of the updated safety procedures to battle COVID-19. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 2/5/2021 4:44 PM

Teachers who've paid out of pocket to keep themselves and their students safe from COVID-19 during 2020 can deduct those expenses on their federal tax returns.

The IRS on Thursday announced guidance related to educators and their expenses under the COVID-related Tax Relief Act of 2020. It clarifies that unreimbursed expenses paid or incurred after March 12, 2020, by eligible educators for protective items to stop the spread of COVID-19 qualify for the educator expense deduction.

 

"I think this is a great idea and amazing, to help support the teachers whose districts didn't provide those things," said Ami Engel, director of science for Algonquin-based Community Unit District 300.

Engel confirmed that most of the District 300 teachers are back in classrooms unless they have an exemption to work from home, and that the students are back in some form of hybrid learning.

Some of the COVID-19 protective items covered by the expense deduction are purchases of face masks, disinfectant, hand soap, hand sanitizer, disposable gloves, tape, paint or chalk to guide social distancing, physical barriers, and air purifiers.

Eligible educators include any individual who is a kindergarten through grade 12 teacher, instructor, counselor, principal, or aide in a school for at least 900 hours during a school year.

The federal educator expense deduction rules permit eligible educators to deduct up to $250 of qualifying expenses per year ($500 if married filing jointly and both spouses are eligible educators, but not more than $250 each).

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