November 15, 2023

Teachers need higher tax deduction for classroom expenses: Sean Casten

U.S. Rep. Sean Casten, a Democrat, and Republican U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett have introduced legislation to increase the amount educators can deduct from $250 to $1,000.

Should a firefighter have to personally pay for the water they use to subdue a fire? Should a librarian have to use their paycheck to purchase books that the public can borrow?

Of course not.

Then why do we expect teachers to pay for the school supplies necessary to provide an education to our children?

Ninety-four percent of public school teachers dig into their own pockets to pay for classroom supplies without reimbursement, such as paper, markers, glue, snacks for students, cleaning supplies, hand soap for bathrooms, books, and more to ensure functional, comfortable and resource-filled learning environments.

It shouldn’t be partisan to provide a strong education for our children. That’s why I’m proud to team up with my colleague from the other side of the aisle, Republican Congressman Tim Burchett of Tennessee, on a bill that hits close to home for both of us. 

Rep. Burchett and I are the sons of teachers. Both of our moms worked hard every day to support their students’ growth. We know firsthand that classroom educators should not be expected to pay hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars out of their own wallets to provide the supplies necessary to educate their classes.

So we came together and figured out a way to help. We introduced the bipartisan Educators Expense Deduction Modernization Act of 2023. This legislation increases the amount educators, including counselors, aides, and other K-12 support staff, can deduct on qualified out-of-pocket classroom expenses on their annual tax return from $250 to $1,000 and keeps the maximum deduction indexed to inflation. Expecting teachers to personally pay for basic classroom supplies is an unnecessary barrier and should not be an additional hurdle. 

This bill is a start, but we can all agree we need to do better. Teachers have endured more than their fair share of hardships in recent years, from transitioning to online learning in 2020 to facing post-pandemic teacher shortages. In Illinois alone, 77% of schools say they have fewer teachers than what’s needed. 

This bill makes a meaningful change to demonstrate the importance of our nation’s educators and recognize the personal sacrifices they make to ensure our students have the resources to learn.

U.S. Rep. Sean Casten, D-Ill.

By:  Rep. Sean Casten
Source: Chicago Sun-Times