What Types of Expenses Should Teachers Track?

There's no doubt that education comes with its own set of expenses. And while the back-to-school season sees parents grumbling about the ever-increasing list of supplies they must buy, many overlook the fact that educators also spend their own money to support classroom lesson plans.

Estimates vary, but Bankrate reported that teachers typically spend $530 out of pocket for school supplies. TurboTax noted that educators spend $945 on average and that this is a common practice before the school year starts for 99.5 percent of all teachers in public schools.

Thankfully, there is some reimbursement at play here — some schools with larger budgets pay educators back for their expense. In addition, the IRS also offers a tax deduction of up to $250 for educational expenses.

In order to get this reimbursement, though, teachers must track their spending. But what expenses are the most important to record?

School Supplies

This can be one of the largest expenses teachers have to deal with by far. While many districts with shrinking budgets are offsetting costs by adding items like tissues and wet wipes to parent school supply lists, as Time contributor Martha White noted, the costs of many supplies fall to educators. Whether teachers buy special supplies for specific lesson plans or simply to ensure that all students have the tools they need, it's important to track these expenses.

The IRS noted that unreimbursed expenses related to classroom supplies like books, computer equipment, and software are eligible for deduction. Keeping track of these transactions will make it much easier for teachers to get this reimbursement come tax time.

Educators should track how much they spend on classroom supplies. Educators should track how much they spend on classroom supplies.

P.E. Teachers: Athletic Equipment

Reimbursement doesn't just come for typical classroom teachers — those in charge of physical education classes can also get reimbursement for their expenses. In this way, P.E. teachers who spend their own money on nets, balls, or other fitness equipment should keep track of their spending as well. While larger purchases may be funded or reimbursed by the district, any leftover, unreimbursed spending can be deducted on yearly tax forms.

Professional Development Programs

Many educators head back to school to further their own skills and knowledge, and as Bankrate pointed out, these expenses can be written off at tax time. Some districts will also offer financial support for teachers who expand their own education, so it's important to track expenses related to professional development programs, including any necessary travel costs.

Make Expense Tracking Easy

Whether for reimbursement from the district, for tax deductions, or simply for their own personal records, it's beneficial for teachers to keep track of the expenses they incur. TurboTax recommends keeping detailed records, and while keeping receipts in physical files is an option, a better way is with an expense reporting solution.

This technology allows educators to easily take photos and keep digital copies of receipts alongside details about their expenses. Everything is organized and easily accessible when it comes time to report to the district for reimbursement, or write things off at tax time.

To find out more about using an advanced expense reporting solution to track educational spending, contact us for a demonstration today.

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Kevin Wolf, TGPR