With a new academic year on the horizon, teachers across the United States are digging deep into their pockets, often shelling out hundreds of dollars to equip their classrooms. According to a recent survey by AdoptAClassroom.org, a fundraising platform, teachers spent an average of $860 on classroom supplies during the 2022-23 school year, out of their own pockets. The survey, which gathered responses from over 3,200 teachers across all 50 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico, underscores the financial burden many educators bear in their pursuit to create a conducive learning environment.
In response to this growing issue, a host of retailers are offering special back-to-school promotions and discounts specifically for teachers. These deals can range from limited-time offers during the month of August to year-round discounts. From fashion retailer J. Crew’s 15% discount for teachers and college students, to Grand Rapids-based Meijer’s back-to-school savings of 15% on school and home office equipment, these initiatives aim to lighten the financial load for teachers. However, awareness about these deals is not widespread, indicating a need for better communication and promotion.
Teacher Spending: Discounts, Promotions and Tax Deductions
Teachers often bear the brunt of the financial strain when it comes to supplying their classrooms, spending hundreds of dollars a year. According to a survey by AdoptAClassroom.org, teachers spent an average of $860 out-of-pocket on classroom supplies during the 2022-23 school year. However, there are several ways teachers can save money, from store discounts and promotions to tax deductions.
Retail Discounts and Promotions
Stores across the country offer special back-to-school promotions and discounts for teachers. J. Crew, for instance, provides a 15% discount at stores and online for teachers, valid up to four times a month. Similarly, Meijer, a Grand Rapids-based retailer, offers 15% off school and home office equipment for teachers throughout the school year, extending to additional categories like children’s apparel and cleaning supplies until September 4.
Other retailers like Jo-Ann Fabric and Crafts, Ikea, and Somerset Collection also offer various discounts and benefits for educators. Notably, Target is offering 20% off one qualifying store-wide purchase using the Target Circle app through August 26 for teachers.
Walmart’s Classroom Registry
While Walmart is not currently offering specific discounts for teachers, it has a "Classroom Registry" where teachers can create a personalized list of items they need for their classrooms. This feature allows parents, guardians, and community members to contribute to the effort.
Tax Deductions for Educators
When filing their 2023 tax returns, teachers can claim a deduction of up to $300 for qualifying out-of-pocket classroom expenses that aren’t reimbursed. If two teachers are married and file a joint return, they can claim up to $600. This is an increase from the previous limit of $250 and is set to rise in $50 increments in future years based on inflation adjustments.
Qualified unreimbursed expenses include books, supplies, computer equipment, software, services, PPE, and professional development courses. Importantly, educators do not have to itemize other deductions to qualify. Both public and private school educators qualify for this deduction.
The start of a new school year often means added expenses for educators. However, by taking advantage of available discounts, promotions, and tax deductions, teachers can significantly cut costs. They need to keep track of their spending and carefully file any receipts and paperwork to back up their claim for a tax deduction. As we move towards the new school year, it’s crucial for educators to be aware of these opportunities to make their job a little less financially demanding.