Richmond County Daily Journal
In an effort to help teachers stretch their salaries, Congressman Larry Kissell introduced a bill to extend an existing educator tax deduction that was set to expire this year.
The bill, H.R. 2329, extends through 2011 an above-the-line tax deduction to elementary and secondary school teachers who purchase supplies or equipment for their classrooms. It was the first bill that Kissell, a former educator, introduced a bill entirely by himself.
"Anyone who teaches school, or knows someone who does, is aware that it is a calling as much as a profession. My mother taught school and I can hardly remember a week when she wasn't taking in something extra for her students, whether it was snacks or supplies or items of interest to highlight a lesson,” said Kissell. “I grew up watching her do the extra, personal things that made the classroom experience more productive and enjoyable for her students. Over the years, many teachers have gone from providing the little extras to bridging the gap to meet basic necessities in the classroom.”
According to a 2006 National School Supply and Equipment Association Retail Awareness Study, teachers spend an average of $493 out of pocket on school supplies. Seven percent of teachers surveyed said they plan to spend more than $1,000 of their personal finances on supplies.
“I can safely say that I spend upwards of $1,000 over the course of a school year purchasing supplies for my children or the classroom,” said Martha Anderson, the 2008-09 Richmond County Schools Teacher of the Year and the Sandhills Regional Teacher of the Year. “I purchase materials such as paper, pencils, crayons, colored pencils, markers, and notebook paper, to area rugs, books, surge protectors, and any rewards that I may give the children.
“It is important that the students have what they need to be successful in school, and if that means I need to assist them, I do.”
She teaches fourth grade at Washington Street Elementary School.
“During my seven years as a public school teacher, I was amazed and inspired by the amount of personal resources teachers devote to the job,” said Kissell. “In countless classrooms across our state, many art programs, educational exercises and classroom displays would not exist but for the dedication and personal expenditures of the teacher to make supplies available. It is a matter of basic fairness that teachers be given a tax credit to help offset the money they spend to help make public education possible."
H.R. 2329 was referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means on May 7. The bill now has six cosponsors. Worth up to $250, the educator expense deduction is available whether or not the educator itemizes deductions on Schedule A - according to www.irs.gov.