Teachers often spend substantial amounts of their own money on classroom supplies and materials directly related to classroom activities and student learning. If you are a teacher or educator who has paid out-of-pocket for items for your classroom, up to $250 of these expenses can be deducted on your 2013 tax return with the Educator Expense tax deduction. Even if you are not itemizing, you can take advantage of this above-the-line tax deduction.
Individuals who qualify for the Educator Expense deduction include teachers, teacher aides, counselors, or principals who have worked with children in kindergarten through 12th grade for at least 900 hours. College instructors, coaches who do not also teach, preschool teachers, and homeschoolers or tutors are not eligible for the deduction.
Eligible expenses include classroom supplies such as pencils, paper, notebooks, and even facial tissues; educational software and hardware; books not provided by the schools, and so on. The deduction is limited to $250 per teacher (meaning $500 for two teachers who are married filing jointly), even if you spent more than that on such items. If you spent anything in excess of the $250 limit, and are itemizing your deductions, you may be able to deduct the additional expenses as "employee business expenses," up to 2% of your AGI.
The Educator Expense deduction is only available through the year 2013.