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The Return of the Educator Credit

Who remembers as recently as 2017, when the educator credit was in place?

Teachers of K-12 students were able to write off $300 of their gross income “above the line.”

That means as part of the adjustment resulting in adjusted gross income.

That means $300 less income being counted for tax…

NOT $300 less tax, which would be an actual credit.

For the typical teacher at the time, assuming they cared enough to save their receipts that’s about a $45 break.

For teachers.

After parents and close family, the most influential people in the lives of millions of young people.

Who here, reading this, doesn’t have at least one special unforgettable teacher in their past?

As a franchise tax preparer years ago I had trouble even getting a teacher to take the credit, once I told them about it.

You know why?


They would think so little about the cost relative to the good it would bring their students that they didn’t even think about the receipts.

I couldn’t talk them into taking the deduction, and looking for the receipts or the bank records later because it wasn’t that big a deal to them.

I was in awe, and also a little incensed at the system for thinking so little of the educators our great land.

Then 2018 rolled around, and with it the “jobs jobs jobs” reforms of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, or TCJA.

A small mostly-overlooked tweak to the tax code, buried under the cosmetic “post card” 1040? 

The elimination of the Educator Credit.

Gone, in the interest of the greater good.

(…did you detect a hint of sarcasm…?)

That lousy $300 break for the teachers, ripped out of their hands. 

In our humble opinion more people should be pissed off about this.

Now…here we are, 2021.

Getting over the strangest year in a century, and a new bill is signed into law.

Actually a three-headed monster known as the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.

No cute acronym like CARES hiding in that one, I’m afraid.  All business.

(…yeah, more sarcasm.  Fun, right?)

Herald the trumpets.  Or trumpet the Harolds, or something like that…

The Educator Expense Reduction returneth, in all its indifferent glory.

Ostensibly to offset the cost of supplies for teachers to sanitize their classrooms staples and supplies. 

It took a catastrophic pandemic to give the under-appreciated teachers back 83% of a previously-inadequate tax credit back.

Allow me to share an editorial opinion with you here. 

If you are of the opinion that the taxpayers of the country have no business making the lives of the teachers of our children a little easier…?

With a $600, or even a $1,000 adjustment to income?

You are a special kind of selfish.

I hope this little bit of light reading has served its intended purpose.

To piss you off at least half as much as we are.

Teachers rule.

They deserve every consideration.

They deserve better than a lousy $250 adjustment to gross income. 

Rant over.

But hey…if you have some leftover stimulus money burning a hole in your pocket?

I have a good idea.

Have an amazing weekend!

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