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Susan Tompor: Tax breaks available for teachers with COVID-19 expenses, those with high medical bills

Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Home and Consumer News

Teachers can deduct up to $250 for unreimbursed business expenses for classroom materials, such as books, supplies, computers including related software and supplementary materials used in the classroom.

If both spouses are teachers, the deduction can be up to $500 on a joint return.

The tax break applies to those who teach kindergarten through grade 12. This tax break does not apply for preschool teachers or college instructors.

Teachers can claim the Educator Expense Deduction regardless of whether they take the standard deduction or itemize their tax deductions. You'd file Schedule 1 and claim the expenses on Line 10.

Claiming medical expenses

Make no mistake, the hurdles remain high for those who want to claim their medical expenses. There is some good news, though. Taxpayers continue to have a 7.5% threshold on 2020 returns for medical expenses and it will be 7.5% again in 2021 and afterward.


"If you itemize deductions, you can deduct medical expenses to the extent they exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income," said Alison Flores, principal tax research analyst at The Tax Institute at H&R Block.

Flores noted that deductible medical expenses include amounts paid for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease. After-tax — but not pre-tax —medical insurance premiums are deductible, too.

"Only out-of-pocket expenses are deductible," Flores said. "Expenses that are reimbursed or are reimbursable by your health insurance are not deductible."

Many people would not have been able to deduct any medical expenses next year when they filed a tax return if a tougher 10% threshold to claim medical expenses began as planned in 2021.


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