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Do you think teachers should get a tax credit for buying classroom supplies?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on August 23, 2007

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Photo of Liz Raynolds

“Yes. They are burdened enough as it is with all of the other expenses they have to pay. They already don’t make enough money.”

Photo of Sean Finn

“Yes, just like any other business expense. If they have to spend that money for supplies, then they really aren’t making it in the first place.”

Photo of Deborah Buscher

“I think those teachers are deserving of a better salary, but they shouldn’t have to spend any of their money on supplies for their classrooms. The schools should get enough funding to give them all of the supplies they need.”

Photo of Joe Faulk

“I think they should if the money is going toward something they are only going to be using for teaching purposes. There should be a limit though. I can’t see anyone spending more than $1,000 a year.”

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sgtwolverine 10 years, 6 months ago

I have no problem considering classroom supplies a business expense of sorts, so I'd be fine with the idea of tax breaks for teachers who buy those supplies on their own money.

mom_of_three 10 years, 6 months ago

If there are supplies the teachers need, which the school, kids, or parents do not provide, then yes, there should be a tax break. There already could be.

absolutelyridiculous 10 years, 6 months ago

too bad teachers aren't paid enough to have the materials they need in their classrooms to begin with! Every year the property taxes go up, the school fees go up, I buy more kleenex, post its and "specific" supplies for those teachers. It all needs to be revamped. I'm tapped out!

Godot 10 years, 6 months ago

This is stupidity, jockeying around with the Federal Income Tax code to solve a local problem that should have a local solution.

Godot 10 years, 6 months ago

Nancy Boyda is unbelievably incompetent.

sgtwolverine 10 years, 6 months ago

TOB, I would have been a bit surprised if there wasn't a tax break for buying school supplies on your own dime. I know I get to write off any and every expense for my photography business, and I don't see teachers being much different when it comes to buying school supplies. I mean, it is a little different, but not much.

14all41 10 years, 6 months ago

Am I missing the boat here? Everyone (at least those who have posted here) seem to be okay with letting teachers have a tax break on supplies. Why? They are not self-employed and the school receives thousands upon thousands of dollars for the operation of their school which includes classroom supplies. Not to mention that parents pay for their own child's supplies for day-to-day activities and if they can't afford them most city and towns have helping agencies that supply them for free. So, what exactly are the teachers buying that is critical to education? Somebody please tell me! If they're supplies that are really needed then I view this more as an educational funding issue....not something that should be "fixed" with a tax break.

TheHeartlessBureaucrat 10 years, 6 months ago

School supplies INCLUDES kleenex, dry erase markers, etc...but also decor, multi-media, outside sources of information to enhance the educational experience. So we're not talking about fronting a pack of pencils for a kid who forgot theirs (not totally anyway) but other materials.

My wife has purchased numerous computer based programs, books, videos, etc. with her paychecks to ensure that her students get as much as possible out of their day.

Our nation does not care about education though. It cares about football. That's where the money goes. Think of what one school district could do with Michael Vick's 7.5 Million Dollar Signing Bonus? They'd have motivational posters and extra pencils for everyone!

But...hey...whatevers important to you.


Bone777 10 years, 6 months ago

I think teachers should be able to afford supplies with the money they make at their summer jobs...

If that doesn't cover it, they should go make some extra money around the holidays when they are off for three weeks, or the week for spring break, or the days of 'planning', or Quanza or the other 52 holidays they get off.

Hour for hour they are paid great!

justtired 10 years, 6 months ago

according to the US Constitution all are entitled to a free education--if this was followed i would have no problem helping the teacher with supplies for the room. we have friends in Pa. and all they pay for are the extra activities.

sgtwolverine 10 years, 6 months ago

That was quality humor, bone. Unless you were serious, in which case ... well, it was still quality humor.

And I do always enjoy the "Look at how much money goes to [x]! If that went to [y] we'd be so much better off!" Because money always makes things better.

Ceallach 10 years, 6 months ago

I think teachers should receive a tax credit, providing of course that the supplies purchased are not at odds with the administration or principal. Just to be sure a teacher doesn't develop their own agenda as to what children should be taught.

TOB, at the g-baby's school they have a "tree" in the entry hall. Each teacher's class is a branch with apples, each apple notes a particular need. Parents and grandparents :) wishing to do so, take an apple to help the classroom. G-baby and I go shopping then she takes the "apple" and supplies back to her teacher. It helps the teacher out and no one is required to participate.

Bone777 10 years, 6 months ago

Humor, but I am still running for the hills....

14all41 10 years, 6 months ago

Thanks for the explanation folks. Not sure I'm completely convinced this is a good solution to the problem however. I know I'm going to open a can of worms here but.....did you know that many state and federal agencies have significantly cut office supplies? I've heard of employees having to buy their own post-its, white-out and pens. So.....should they also get a tax break? Let's stay away from the "tax burden" comments and focus on...if employees buy their own office/classroom/boardroom supplies, should they get a tax break? That's why I'm thinking this is not an intelligent solution - think where it could go.

14all41 10 years, 6 months ago

Oh, just for the record....I'm not against teachers by any stretch of the imagination. Both of my parents taught for decades.

Kat Christian 10 years, 6 months ago

I think if the parents just don't buy all those school supplies the school would somehow come up with them. And not pay those elaborate school fees. What are they going to do not let ALL our kids in school? I'd like to know where the money is going that is supposed to be spent on the school program? How much of it is actually being paid out to fund the system and how much of it is pocketed and by whom.

Richard Heckler 10 years, 6 months ago

Reimburse the teachers for what they spend. They need the money back now. The district ought to be grateful teachers have enough interest to insure all students are getting what they need. All children do not learn the same therefore creativity on the teachers end should be funded and appreciated. Pay them back!

kugrad 10 years, 6 months ago

Local problem? Something that occurs nationwide should be solved locally? I don't think so. The tax break (which is NOT a tax credit, it comes off of income earned, NOT off of taxes paid) is a small recognition of the fact that teachers buy supplies to teach other people's children well. For the last 2 or 3 years, it has been in place as a temporary measure, and it is a $250 deduction maximum (but you have to save receipts and the items must be for use only in the classroom for instruction). Boyda is simply suggesting that the maximum be raised and that it be made permanent. The actual program isn't her idea, I think it was proposed by the Bush administration. Again, look at your tax form. This item is found under adjustments to income. In other words, teachers are not getting a $250 tax break, they are able to reduce their taxable income by $250, which MIGHT be a few dollars tax break. At some places in the tax table it wouldn't amount to much of anything. It is more of a recognition than a big tax advantage. Anyway, whenever the subject is teachers and money, those who were never the brightest crayon in the box can't wait to post their gripes. Poor. poor Reticent. He has to buy Kleenex for his kid's class. Waahh. Pass me a box will you.

Grundoon Luna 10 years, 6 months ago

And the sapling is growing next to a stump so you have something to put your beer on, R_I?

Give 'em the tax break. It stinks to high heaven that this stuff isn't all provided for them in the first place. Oil companies get corporate welfare and our teachers need to pull money out of their own pocket to make a better learning edperience for our children. This nation's priorities are totally jacked up!

ndmoderate 10 years, 6 months ago

No tax break! It won't solve the root problem of poor spending decisions on the part of school administrators and Boards.

Either reimburse or have the schools pay for the stuff up front.

14all41 10 years, 6 months ago

KUGrad: Who said local? Unless you're referring to Godot's comment several hours ago.

Hoots 10 years, 6 months ago

If this district wasn't so amazingly top heavy with administration they might be able to afford a thing or two. Teachers shouldn't have to spend money on classroom materials but they do. I know several teachers and not one of them is rich by any means. No wonder they can't afford to give the teachers a raise. When you are giving so many administrators raises with already large salaries then nothing is left for the people who actually do something for the kids. Some of the possitions we have in this district in administration are a joke akin to $70,000 a year pickle inspectors. I wish they would get rid of some of the dead wood and pay our teachers inline with surrounding districts.

Godot 10 years, 6 months ago

In response to KUGRAD's claim that this is not a local problem, I will remind her that funding public education is a local responsibility. Pandering to the teachers by increasing this deduction does nothing to solve the problem that local school districts are spending their money in the wrong places. In fact, it gives them an excuse to put even more expenses on the shoulders of the teachers.

Mkh 10 years, 6 months ago

Yes. But first we need to abolish the meaningless and unconstitutional Federal Income Tax to give a real break to all working Americans.

Nick Yoho 10 years, 6 months ago

Yes!and I hope they buy Ice Cream for the kids,and deduct that too!Better then shipping it off To Iraq with the pallets of $100 bills supposedly lost there!Spend our tax dollars domestically!

Nick Yoho 10 years, 6 months ago

Also,you know, if you think about it,the teachers know better what they need than the administration,for each individual class. This(tax break) is fair,and gives them some leeway,though it is an insult,that they would HAVE to spend $ out of their own pockets.Maybe they should get a $250 budget for supplies for every semester. The few dollars taxes saved(maybe)is nothing compared to the real dollars out of the teachers personal budget.

sunflower_sue 10 years, 6 months ago

Sure, give them a tax credit. The credit should have a limit, though. I know that my kids' teachers pay out of pocket for a lot of things that are used in class. As long as it is a justified expense, they should get reimbursed. A tax credit would be nice, but how do we conclude that what is a fair amount in New York City is a fair amount in Kansas City. The credit should somehow be made on a local level.

Ceallach 10 years, 6 months ago

TOB: meant no disrespect to the spending of the official one, hope it wasn't taken as such. The classroom environment plays a major role in educating a child. I think it is terrible that she has to fill the gap like that. But I disagree with comparing a teacher's contribution to educating children with an office worker buying post-its or white-out. Teachers are buying supplies to benefit the children, whereas employees would be benefiting themselves.

Godot 10 years, 6 months ago

Boyda should advocate no taxes, for anyone, period. That is only fair.

Ceallach 10 years, 6 months ago

Ag, since I feel it's safe to assume that you were being facetious :) I totally agree. Religion, fundamentalist or not, is high on my list of things I do not want teachers setting their own agenda and teaching in public schools. If that is what parents want, they should pony up and send their children to a private school.

Godot 10 years, 6 months ago

Oh, yes, by all means, allow a $500 deduction for religious/secular/sexual material the teacher purchased on his own because he knew it would not have been approved by the district. Yeah, thassss right.

Ceallach 10 years, 6 months ago

Kudos to Mrs Ag and Mrs TOB.

I'm still surprised at how few parents give a "rip" about their child's class, school activities, etc. For many children, their teacher is one of the few positive, encouraging influences in their lives. Teachers are sooo underpaid!!

number3of5 10 years, 6 months ago

Teachers should be reimbursed in one way or another for the teaching supplies that they pay for out of their own pockets. This even includes the items that they hang on their walls, which by the way is educational. Most school districts allow the teacher x amount of dollars to spend and it is not nearly enough in most cases. There is a limit on how much copying a teacher can do in some schools. We tie the teachers hands and yet expect them to teach our children, ones that have no discipline at home if they even have a home, along with the ones from the more affluent homes no matter what the costs to accomplish this task. Schools should be free. Education only serves to empower the learner. The children need the best opportunity to learn. If our teachers are spending their own money to accomplish this task, then they need to be reimbursed.

GardenMomma 10 years, 6 months ago

Just FYI, there is an "above-the-line" deduction for K through 12 teachers who purchase classroom supplies. The deduction is limited to $250. This will directly lower your adjusted gross income (that's what you're taxed on).

I'd rather see a tax credit for teachers. $250 less on your AGI probably won't lower your actual tax due by very much, but a tax credit WILL lower the amount of tax you actually have to pay.

And a refundable tax credit like EIC would be even nicer. But good luck with getting that to happen!

coolmom 10 years, 6 months ago

having worked in classrooms for the last several years let me tell you what teachers are buying. hand sanitizer and soap. paper towels in one classroom with young kids as they could only have a small amount doled out each week and the younger kids used more. glue sticks. they get some and parents bring some but there is never enough. copying costs in one school the amount of copies wasnt enough to last the classroom of 34 kids for the alloted month. the standard notebooks and school supplies for the children in each classroom that never have them. one teacher i know buys lunches and socks and warm coats for some kids. i kow there are service agencies out there but once a report or request is made then the families often get mad and the child suffers. one teacher bought gloves for all her kids as half didnt have any. these teachers are not trying to score anything. just do the job in the most compassionate way they know how. i say give it to them and thank you. my sis in law spends 400 or so a year in a fairly well to do school. i sub and help in classrooms and will never get the credit and spend 2-3 hundred a year not on my kids.

ms_canada 10 years, 6 months ago

No employee should ever have to purchase work supplies out of pocket. Do nurses buy bandages, thermometers, penicillin, etc? Do secretaries buy printer ink, paper, stamps? Do highway workers buy tarmacadam, gravel? I commend these teachers who buy lunches, gloves, jackets etc. God bless their hearts. But these are not school supplies. They should not have to buy chalk or maps or video tapes. These should all be supplied by the school board. Something is terribly wrong if a school board does not supply the necessary tools and equipment to allow a teacher to impart knowledge to her charges without it being a hardship on her/him. Tax credit? that would be a good idea.

kugrad 10 years, 6 months ago

Godot, Please provide proof of even ONE instance where a teacher in Lawrence purchased materials as you describe in this ridiculous statement, "religious/secular/sexual material the teacher purchased on his own because he knew it would not have been approved by the district."

Teachers are buying things like this: Books for the classroom library, stickers for incentives, cleaning materials to keep desks clean, hand sanitizer, eyeglasses repair kits, materials for science demonstrations, games for indoor recess, educational materials for learning centers, supplementary books to reinforce the curriculum, posters, and so on. This hidden agenda BS that you propose shows your anti-teacher bias and your lack of common sense.

packrat 10 years, 6 months ago

The teachers in my children's school have learned that my wife and I are an easy mark. We constantly buy additional materials for thier classrooms. Every year we shop the school supply sales and stock hundreds of notebooks, pens, pencils, crayons and paints. We do this because we want to and can afford it.

I don't think there should be a tax credit.

kugrad 10 years, 6 months ago

b3, teachers don't get the credit for buying work clothes or diapers either. Schools don't provide many necessities. If you have no idea at all what you are talking about, think twice before posting. Your post is idiotic.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 10 years, 6 months ago

I teach Spanish throughout the year, and we ocassionally have fiestas for which the children bring Mexican American food, and I make an authentic recipe of a typical hispanic country. I pay for this out of my own pocket. The school wouldn't consider this an "educational" expense, but I think I'm enriching my students' experience of the culture, so I keep doing it. Along with books and posters and other things that I think enrich my classroom, I easily spend over $250 dollars, and take the deduction each time. It would be nice if they would at least raise the limit of the deduction.

camper 10 years, 6 months ago

Why not allow a tax credit? I also think employees should be able to deduct commuting expenses (ie maybe gas only). After all it is an expense incurred for the purpose of earning money. But once you give tax credits you open the door to abuse. And isn't the tax code already complicated enough? Maybe the school district should provide supplies. Maybe even develop a program where supplies can be donated. I believe a deduction or credit already exists for charitable donations.

camper 10 years, 6 months ago

Maybe Sarbanes & Oxley can solve the problem.....probably an inside joke. But if you know what these two idiotic officials have done, you'd understand my sarcasm here. Back to the topic. Do we really need to add more pages to the tax code? And I think reticent made a good comment that a deduction for school supplies already exists (many often confuse tax credits with tax deductions...credits are more valuable because they are a dollar for dollar reduction in taxes owed).

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