Brown Introduces Bill to Double Teacher Tax Deduction
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Anthony G. Brown (MD-04) and 35 co-sponsors introduced the Educators Expense Deduction Modernization Act, that would increase the current deduction available to educators from $250 to $500, and index it to inflation.
“In Maryland and across the country, dedicated teachers take on the daily challenge of educating our young people and pushing them to realize their full potential,” said Congressman Brown. “In spite of tight classroom budgets, limited education resources and low pay, educators take hundreds of dollars out of their pockets to purchase supplies for their students to ensure every child has the resources they need to learn and succeed. Increasing this deduction acknowledges the importance of their work, is a small ‘thank you’ for the counselors, principals and teachers who make financial sacrifices to benefit their students, and helps achieve the outcomes we want for all our kids.”
According to a 2016 survey by Scholastic, the education publishing and media company, K-12 public-school teachers spent an average of $530 of their own money in the previous year for classroom or student use, while principals spent an average of $683 of their own money. Teachers in high-poverty schools spent nearly 40 percent more than their peers elsewhere, with one in 10 spending $1,000 or more. In some cases, educators in low-income districts take it upon themselves to buy clothing and personal hygiene products, in addition to school supplies, for kids who are especially in need. All this adds up to more than $1 billion coming out of educator’s own pockets.
Currently educators are allowed an above-the-line deduction - meaning one does need to itemize their expense to receive it - of up to $250 for unreimbursed out-of-pocket supply costs, including books, computer equipment, software and other supplemental classroom materials. Nearly 80,000 educators in Maryland claimed this deduction on their taxes in 2015.
The House tax reform proposal would have repealed the deduction, while the Senate proposal would have increased the deduction by $500 through 2025. The final Conference Report retained the current law deduction.
This legislation doubles the deduction educators can claim on their taxes, and indexes it to inflation. Originally passed in 2002, the deduction no longer carries the same value today that it did over 15 years ago - $250 in 2002 is equal to $348.79 today. By indexing this deduction to inflation, this small tool for teachers will remain useful decades later.
“Be it coats for kids in the winter, or construction paper and crayons in the fall, or books to take home for the summer, educators dig into their own pockets every day to pay for supplies for their classrooms and other resources their kids need,” said American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten. “No other employers or businesses rely on the expectation that their employees will subsidize their work. Offering educators a higher tax deduction indexed to inflation to offset some of what they spend on teaching and learning is a signal of respect for educators. We’re proud to support this bill.”
“The National Education Association (NEA) applauds Rep. Brown for standing up for educators and introducing legislation to substantially increase the educator tax credit,” said National Education Association Director of Government Relations Marc Egan. “For too long, dedicated educators across the nation have reached into their own pockets to purchase supplies for their students and classroom that far exceed the current $250 deduction. Doubling this deduction and indexing it to inflation is a real win for our members.”
According the Economic Policy Institute, pay for teachers has stagnated nationally over the past two decades and fallen behind the earning of other workers with college degrees. In 39 states the average teacher earned less in 2016 than they did in 2010. In 29 states teachers earn significantly less—at least $1,000 less—than what other employers pay to attract and retain similar workers. Additionally, 29 states were providing less total school funding per student than they were in 2008.
“The Maryland State Education Association commends Congressman Brown’s efforts to support educators here in Maryland and across the country, who make sacrifices every day for those students who are especially in need,” said Maryland State Education Association President Betty Weller. “This significant improvement to the educators expense deduction will give our members an additional tool to create the classroom their students deserve. Congressman Brown has long been a champion for Maryland’s teachers, and it is heartening to see him continue that legacy on Capitol Hill.”
“Finally! Here is a long overdue piece of legislation that recognizes the personal sacrifices our nation’s teachers make every day,” said Association of American Educators Founder Gary Beckner. “Too much of the education funding stream is soaked up before it ever makes it to the classroom, where it is needed most. And this legislation doesn’t even require new funding. This increase in the tax deduction may not seem like much to some, but it will make a positive impact in our classrooms. Thank you, Congressman Brown!”
“NASSP strongly supports the increase in the educators expense deduction. The wage gap between teachers and comparably educated professionals, now approaching 20%, continues to widen. Yet educators reach selflessly into their own pockets to provide students the resources they need to advance their own learning,” said National Association of Secondary School Principals Executive Director JoAnn Bartoletti. “These educators personally bear the burden of the failure of government at all levels to fund schools appropriately. This increase in a modest tax credit is the very least we can do for a profession charged with nothing less that building our collective future.”
Other groups supporting the legislation are the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), American Association of School Administrators (AASA), Association of American Educators (AAE), Association of Teacher Educators (ATE), National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), National Council for Teachers of English (NCTE), National Education Association (NEA), United Negro College Fund (UNCF)
Representatives cosponsoring the bill are Reps. Barragan, Beatty, Boyle, Butterfield, Carson, Cicilline, Clarke, Correa, Courtney, DeLauro, Garamendi, Grijalva, Hanabusa, Hastings, Jackson-Lee, Johnson (GA), Kaptur, Krishnamoorthi, Langevin, Lee, C. Maloney, S.P. Maloney, Meeks, Moore, Nadler, Norton, Pallone, Raskin, Thompson (MS), Titus, Tonko, Vargas, Vela, Velazquez, Watson Coleman, Wilson (FL)