The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced it will provide a safe harbor for eligible educators to deduct select unreimbursed COVID-19-related expenses. The safe harbor covers expenses paid or incurred after Mar. 12, 2020, for personal protective equipment (PPE), disinfecting cleaners and other items intended to combat the spread of COVID-19 in classrooms. All expenses are still subject to the IRS’s $250 educator expense deduction limitation. Below is more information on the educator classroom expenses deduction and the newly deductible classroom expenses.

Educator Classroom Expenses Deduction

While employees typically cannot deduct unreimbursed business expenses as miscellaneous itemized deductions from 2018-2025, eligible educators may classify some of their unreimbursed classroom expenses as above-the-line deductions and deduct them from their gross income. Teachers are considered as an eligible educator if they teach kindergarten through 12th grade or are considered an instructor, aide, counselor or principal at a school for at least 900 hours per school year. Common deductible expenses for teachers include computer equipment for the classroom, school supplies and textbooks.

COVID Legislation Adds New Deductible Expenses

The COVID Tax Relief Act of 2020 requested the Secretary of the Treasury to classify COVID-19 protective equipment paid or incurred after Mar. 12, 2020 as eligible educator classroom expenses. The IRS issued a safe harbor revenue procedure as a result of this new requirement. According to the revenue procedure, COVID-19 protective supplies include:

  • Face masks
  • Disinfectant
  • Hand soap and sanitizer
  • Disposable gloves
  • Paint, chalk or paint used to demonstrate social distancing
  • Physical barriers, including plexiglass
  • Air purifiers
  • Other supplies recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

If you’re an educator and have questions about deducting COVID-19 related classroom expenses under the safe harbor, contact Doeren Mayhew’s tax advisors today.