Teachers to get tax break

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 25, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

Most teachers end up digging into their own pockets to pay for supplies once provided by parents or the school system.

Soon, educators will get a slight break to help repay their generosity: A tax credit to offset out-of-pocket expenses for classroom supplies.

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On Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to extend a popular teacher tax deduction that allows school teachers to take a tax deduction of up to $250 a year for classroom expenses they pay out of their own pockets.

Michael Hill, an earth science and oceanography teacher at John F. Kennedy Middle School, said he appreciates the gesture.

&uot;It’s a nice thought but it’s not enough,&uot; Hill said. &uot;&uot;You could spend that in two weeks.

&uot;I usually end up spending between about $1,300 a year on classroom supplies.&uot;

That is pretty typical among teachers, he believes.

Teachers usually end up helping kids who come to school without adequate supplies – notebooks, pencils, paper and the like.

And teachers often make purchases – such as overhead projector transparencies, at $50 a box – to enhance the learning experience for children, Hill said.

U.S. Rep. J. Randy Forbes, R-Va., who voted for the bill, said teachers deserve the tax credit.

&uot;Our teachers need as many tools as possible to help them do their jobs,&uot; Forbes said. &uot;I would venture to say that virtually every teacher in Virginia’s Fourth District pays money out of his or her own pocket for classroom materials, for everything from crayons and markers to books and software.

&uot;Teachers should be allowed to deduct those expenses, which are a direct investment in the education of our nation’s children.&uot;

The teacher tax credit was included in H.R. 1308, the Working Families Tax Relief Act of 2004, which passed by a 339 – 65 vote.