If the taxpayer or spouse is an eligible educator, ask for documentation of qualified expenses. Advise taxpayers who do not have receipts with them, they must have receipts for verification if they get audited. Expenses that qualify include books, supplies, equipment (including computer equipment, software, and services), and other materials used in the classroom. Expenses that do not quality are home schooling, nonathletic supplies for physical education, or health courses.
Gloria is a 5th and 6th grade teacher who works full-time in a year-round school. She had 1800 hours of employment during the tax year. She spent $262 on supplies for her students. Of that amount, $212 was for educational software. The other $50 was for supplies for a unit she teaches sixth graders on health. Only the $212 is a qualified expense. She can deduct $212.
Debbie is a part-time art teacher at an elementary school. She spent $185 on qualified expenses for her students. Because she has only 440 hours of documented employment as an educator during the tax year, she cannot deduct her educator expenses.