Teachers who pay for classroom supplies could soon get tax deductions

Updated: Feb. 27, 2018 at 5:21 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A bill moving through the state legislature looks to ease the financial burden for teacher who pay for classroom supplies out of pocket.

House Bill 1720 allows supplies such as notebooks, pencils and other classroom tools purchased by teachers to be written off as a tax deduction.

The bill also applies to books, computer equipment, software and other supplementary materials.

All purchases would need prior approval from school officials before qualifying for the deductions.

Under current federal law, educators can deduct up to $250 for classroom purchases – which some teachers feel is well below the money they actually spend.

According to a survey by the Hawaii State Teachers Association, 47 percent of Hawaii educators spend between $250 and $500 on materials. Some have reported spending over $1,000 of their own money.

"In the case of classroom supplies, it's true that teachers, 'do it for the kids,' purchasing materials out of their own paychecks. Waiting for departmental or purchase order approval would often disrupt planned curricula and, in turn, student learning," the union said in written testimony. "Teachers won't abide that."

In hearings thus far, the bill has had unanimous support from lawmakers with little opposition.

The bill passed its latest hearing in the Finance Committee on Tuesday and could soon head to a full House floor vote.

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