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Educators welcome tax relief as new school year gets underway across the U.S.

House committee approval of $250 educator tax deduction comes as needs of students grow

WASHINGTON - September 17, 2015 -

The U.S. House Ways and Means Committee today approved The Educator Tax Relief Act of 2015 (H.R. 2940), a bill to provide relief for educators who pay out of pocket for classroom expenses incurred to help meet their students’ needs. The expired educator tax deduction allows educators to deduct eligible unreimbursed expenses up to $250. This bipartisan bill would make the $250 educator tax deduction permanent, index it to inflation, and allow educators to deduct out-of-pocket expenditures for professional development as well as classroom materials and supplies.

“We applaud the House Ways and Means Committee for passing a bill to provide much-needed financial relief for the 99.5 percent of public school teachers who put their own dollars toward classroom supplies and instructional materials,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. “This tax deduction is timely, permanent, and will go a long way towards making sure educators continue provide what students need to succeed.”

Passage of the educator tax relief legislation comes as the nation reached two staggering and shameful milestones. For the first time in recent history, more than 50 percent of all children attending public schools live in poverty, and the number of homeless children in public schools has doubled since before the recession.

And these aren’t just stark statistics. These are the real and very personal stories of students in need and how educators are trying to help as millions are back in schools and classrooms that often are lacking the basic materials and supplies that students need for the school year ahead.

A school band teacher from Ohio has bought book bags, clothing, groceries, bus passes, and even musical instruments for her students, on top of standard classroom supplies like pencils, pens, scissors, and paper. An educator from the state of Washington scours yard sales and searches for online deals to stretch her dollars. A Maryland teacher told the Washington Post that she makes a run to Costco every three weeks to keep her classroom stocked with snacks for hungry students.

The latest survey by the National School Supply and Equipment Association found that 99.5 percent of all public school teachers dip into their own pockets to equip their classrooms. The same survey found that during the 2012-13 school year, educators spent a total of $1.6 billion of their own money on classroom supplies and instructional materials. The average teacher spent $485 and 10 percent spent $1,000 or more—double the percentage previously reported.

“The fact that educators are doing whatever it takes to meet the needs of their students speaks volumes about the economic struggles families—and educators—continue to face every day,” said Eskelsen García. “Public schools are still feeling the impact of the growing number of homeless students and of students living in poverty. As a result, too often educators across the country sacrifice and reach into their own pockets to buy supplies and materials that help meet students’ basic needs.”

“We applaud the Ways and Means Committee for recognizing the financial sacrifices educators make every day on behalf of their students,” added Eskelsen García. “We encourage the full House and Senate to make the deduction permanent, index it to inflation, and include professional development as well as classroom materials and supplies.”

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The National Education Association is the nation's largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers. Learn more at

CONTACT: Miguel A. Gonzalez