By: Pat Austin
SHREVEPORT – I haven’t poured through the proposed Republican tax plan but I did get far enough to see that teachers will be losing their $250 per year tax credit should it pass unscathed.
The tax bill proposed by Republican leaders yesterday scraps a benefit that many teachers have come to rely on: the $250 “educator expense deduction,” which can be used to recoup the cost of classroom materials.
K-12 teachers who spend money out-of-pocket on books, supplies, professional development courses, and computer equipment and software for their classrooms can claim the deduction each year, according to the IRS. Health and physical education teachers can also use it for athletic supplies. Counselors, principals, and aides who incurred such expenses can claim the deduction as well. In 2015, Congress extended the benefit indefinitely.
Teachers spend about $530 of their own money on classroom items, according to a 2016 nationally representative survey from Scholastic. In high-poverty schools, they spend about 40 percent more—an average of $672.
As a teacher this irritates me.
I spend much more than that each year on my students to ensure they have the most basic materials necessary for class. I venture to say that I spend $250 along just on notebook paper and pencils. Every year before school starts I go online to the misprint pencil place and order four boxes of misprinted pencils and then I go on Amazon and order large quantities of notebook paper. If I’m lucky these will last until the end of the year.
On top of that I buy boxes of Kleenix, pens, crayons, markers, colored pencils, art paper, and spiral notebooks.
Schools furnish none of these things.
In the past I have even used my personal blog to campaign for classroom sets of books and supplies.
I am fortunate to work for a district that will reimburse $100 of the money I spend on supplies. That is at least something.
When there are so many areas of waste and so many entitlement handouts these days, why pick on the teachers? We’re already the lowest paid people on the food chain.
Very disheartening, Republicans, very disheartening.
Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.