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Teacher Tax Deduction Could Double to $500 Under Approved Senate Bill

Many teachers across the country were outraged to learn they would lose their $250 deduction for classroom materials under the tax bill proposed by House Republicans. 

But the version of the bill passed early this morning by the Republican-led Senate actually goes in the other direction—doubling the amount teachers can deduct to $500. (See the Politics K-12 blog for details on how that bill affects state and local funding and school choice.)

The "educator expense deduction" was added to tax law about 15 years ago. Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican who is still in office and considered an influential vote on tax reform, led the charge. The effort was meant to give teachers, many of whom spend hundreds of dollars a year on classroom supplies without being reimbursed, a break on their taxes. It's an above-the-line deduction, meaning teachers don't need to itemize their expenses to get it.

For a thorough primer on the educator expense deduction, take a look at Five Things to Know About the $250 Tax Break That Teachers Could Lose or watch the Facebook Live video below.

The two bills still need to be reconciled, so it's up in the air what will happen to the deduction in the final version of any legislation, assuming lawmakers can agree to one.

The large national teachers' unions, though, are not buoyed by the potential increase to the deduction, which is a relatively minor provision within the complete tax overhaul. In a statement this morning, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten expressed her dismay about the bill, accusing Senate Republicans of "handing huge tax breaks to their wealthy donors and corporations ... while sticking it to the middle class and working folks." 

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