Are you a teacher, instructor, counselor, principal or aide in an elementary or high school? If you’re like most educators, you spend a little bit of dough here and there to make your school a better place for the students. Fortunately, Congress recognizes your generosity, and you may be able to claim the educator expense deduction. This deduction is available to those of you who work at least 900 hours a year in a public or private school and who spend their own money to provide classroom supplies.

The deduction is worth up to $250, and you don’t have to itemize to claim it. You simply need to save your receipts. You can deduct up to $250 worth of books, supplies, computer equipment, software, and other supplemental materials that you use in the classroom. Of course, your purchases have to be the sorts of things that would usually be found in a classroom. Pencils, paper, videos on history, and lab equipment all qualify. Coach (Stock Quote: COH) bags for your fashion design elective do not.

Like every deduction, this one comes with limitations. If your employer reimbursed you for your expenses, you can’t claim the deduction. In addition, if you are spending money on your own education, you might be out of luck. That’s because the amount that you can deduct must be reduced by any distributions that you receive from a 529 plan, a Coverdell Education Savings Account or education savings bonds. Luckily, if your student teaching days are behind you, this restriction probably won’t be a problem.

If you’re an A+ educator who spends money on your class, don’t forget to take the educator expense deduction—it’s the smart thing to do.

Don’t forget to check out our complete archive of Daily Deductions.

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