November 29, 2022

Bill would give educators $500 tax deduction for purchased classroom supplies

Missouri elementary and secondary school educators will be able to deduct up to $500 of unreimbursed expenses under a bill in the legislature.

House Bill 1981, sponsored by Ann Kelley, R-Lamar, would be effective in 2023. Eligible educators are teachers, instructors, counselors, principals, or aides who worked at least 900 hours during a school year in kindergarten through 12th grade.

“As former school board member, this was a huge complaint of mine,” Don Mayhew, R-Crocker and a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, said during testimony on Feb. 9. “We had a lot of teachers – usually the younger ones who were fresh into it – who would buy supplies all the time for their kids in the classroom. We would never reimburse them. And it would be stuff we should have been buying in the first place.”

Mayhew and Zach Wyatt, the Department of Revenue’s legislative director, encouraged the committee to change the bill so educators would better realize the $500 benefit. They speculated most teachers don’t prepare itemized federal returns and a corresponding Missouri itemized return where the $500 could be realized.

“Instead of making this a deduction, you could make it a subtraction,” Wyatt said.

Wyatt also said a subtraction would change the bill’s fiscal note and make it more accurate and realistic. The fiscal note showed a decrease in general revenue of as much as $1.8 million. Using 2019 data, the Office of Administration reported in the fiscal note there were 65,410 – the number of teachers in the state – tax filers who claimed $16.9 million, for an average of approximately $258. They also reported deductions don’t reduce revenues on a dollar-for-dollar basis but in proportion to the top tax rate applied.

Otto Fajen of the Missouri National Education Association and Matthew Michelson of the Missouri State Teachers Association testified in favor of the bill.

“Our teachers in America spend more than a billion dollars of their own money every year to help support their classrooms,” Fajen said. “We just want to go on the record and say we support this proposal. It’s going to offer help at a time when it’s been tough for our kids. It’s been tough on our teachers in the schools. Our schools are really struggling to keep teachers and other staff in the classroom. This gives some recognition in a specific way to say we appreciate them contributing their own money to help support what your kids need in the classroom.”

Fajen also praised the inclusion of private, charter and virtual school educators in the bill.

“We purchase a lot of crayons for those kids,” Kyna Iman of the Missouri Alliance for Art Educators and the Gifted Association of Missouri testified.

No one spoke out against the bill.

A similar bill was unanimously voted out of committee in late March during the 2021 legislative session but didn’t advance any further.

This article was originally posted on Bill would give educators $500 tax deduction for purchased classroom supplies

Sydney Boles