On average, U.S. teachers spend $500 on school supplies each year out of their own pockets. And yet, teachers are only allowed to claim a $250 tax deduction when filing. That deduction for teachers hasn’t changed since 2003, while the amount teachers spend out of pockets has continually increased. That just doesn’t add up.
New Jersey teacher Nicholas Ferroni went on the hunt for some answers. He took to Twitter to ask how much fellow educators have spent on school supplies this year.
As we file our taxes, this is a reminder that teachers are only allowed to write off $250 for school supplies, yet the average teacher spends over $500.
TEACHER SOCIAL EXPERIMENT: How much $ have you spent on school supplies so far this year?
— Nicholas Ferroni (@NicholasFerroni) February 20, 2020
Here’s what teachers had to say in response:
Some teachers wished they only spent $500 a year on supplies.
I stopped keeping track after I hit $1,000. 😭
— Heather Justus (@hljustus) February 20, 2020
We hear you there, Heather.
Over $2,000… 🙈
— Mrs. Hall (@MrsHallScholars) February 21, 2020
Entire teacher paychecks—and then some—are being spent on supplies.
I spent almost $1,400 for 2019. I know my first year of teaching I walked into my room with literally nothing so I know I spend 3k or 4K those first couple of years. I am going on year 8 and still spending at least 1k a year
— Sara (@Miss_Ability) February 20, 2020
“Teachers already give back a lot to their communities, expecting them to even pay for the supplies needed to do their work seems unfair and even absurd,” said one non-teacher Twitter user.
In fact, many teachers surpassed the $250 maximum for the year a while ago.
About $250 PER MONTH
— Andria Morrison (@AndriaRogers14) February 20, 2020
Well, that’s one way to put it all in perspective.
It’s such a joke. I spend more than $250 before school starts on supplies, new books for our class library, etc.
— Robin Young (@RobinYoung123) March 3, 2020
As we all know, books are rarely cheap.
I’ve been so blessed with classroom donations this school year, but since December/January 2020 I’ve already spent over $250 on replenishing supplies, new books, buying healthy snacks for my students, and purchasing art materials because…kids NEED art! 🎨
— Lisa (@teachinginrm30) February 20, 2020
Yes, they do. #SaveTheArts
How much teachers spend depends on what they teach, too.
Well over $1500 of my own money…non-reimbursed. Yes it is “my choice” to buy these items but we have little budget and science gets expensive!
— Corrie (@corabelle1974) February 21, 2020
Science equipment adds up quickly.
Between teaching and stuff for our football program it has be over $1000.
— Denny Molzen (@coachmolzen) February 21, 2020
The more classes and programs an educator leads, the more they have to pay for.
I’m a librarian. I don’t think I want to know the amount I’ve personally spent on books that end up in my library, plus the regular supplies.
— Angela Pointer (@arp363) February 21, 2020
Let’s not forget that librarians and other school staff members also contribute out-of-pocket.
At the end of the day, teachers will pay whatever they can because they want their students to succeed.
I have spent well over $1,000. I work in a very high poverty school. So in order to make sure that my students have what they need, I just buy it.
— Jillian Emert (@jke208) February 20, 2020
Where you teach also impacts how much is spent to give students a proper education.
Since the beginning of the school year, so far $660. My budget from the 🏫 was $8 per child (for 10 months);it buys the basics. As teachers, we are not only emotionally invested in the success of our students but also financially invested because #KidsDeserveIt #NoCutsToEducation
— Joanna Wardawa (@ClassedeWardawa) February 20, 2020
Kids absolutely deserve it.
I don’t even keep track so I don’t get depressed lol. It’s for the kids!!
— Mr. Horner (@THSMr_Horner) February 20, 2020
We might have to implement this tactic for our own mental health!
So if teachers are willing to do—and pay—whatever they can to help students succeed, why isn’t our education system doing the same?
Over 1k at least. I’m saving my receipts & plan on sending them to my elected officials next time they debate the tax code. #teachertax pic.twitter.com/h1aeZn75HW
— Kathryn Vaughn (@MissKatieDi) February 20, 2020
This is not a bad idea at all, honestly.
We’d love to hear from you. How much more do you spend than the annual tax deduction? Come and share in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.
Plus, why teachers should not have to beg for school supplies online.