Teachers should be allowed to deduct PPE classroom expenses from taxes, says Tillis

Personal protective equipment (PPE) required to minimize the spread of COVID-19 should be included as a deductible classroom expense, U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) wrote in a Sept. 1 letter sent to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

“As school districts work on providing a safe classroom environment and enough PPE, some teachers may wish to supplement these efforts and take further personal precautions for their health and the health of their students,” wrote Sen. Tillis and his colleague U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-SD). “We ask that purchases made for COVID-19 prevention be a deductible expense.” 

Currently, educators may deduct up to $250 of supplementary classroom materials and equipment on their taxes for unreimbursed trade or business expenses, according to the lawmakers’ letter.

Sen. Tillis and his colleague requested guidance to ensure PPE, sanitizer, plexiglass, and other protective measures also are deductible under the Internal Revenue Service’s Educator Expense Deduction, which is authorized by the 1986 Internal Revenue Code. 

“Under normal circumstances, teachers often cover classroom costs out-of-pocket,” according to their letter. “As many school districts return to in-person learning, it is likely that teachers will on a case-by-case basis make purchases to protect their health and the health of their students.”

Sen. Tillis and Rep. Johnson also noted that such simple guidance will help keep the nation’s classrooms safe and healthy.