Sen. Irwin, Rep. Witwer introduce teacher tax credit legislation

LANSING — As part of Teacher Appreciation Week, Sen. Jeff Irwin (D–Ann Arbor) and Rep. Angela Witwer (D–Delta Township) have introduced legislation to provide a tax credit for educators who pay out-of-pocket for classroom supplies. Senate Bill 315 and House Bill 4582 would allow teachers to claim a tax credit for up to $1,000 for a single return and up to $2,000 for a joint return.

“Every day, teachers in Michigan are taking money out of their pockets to buy supplies for their classrooms because Lansing is failing to fund our public schools,” Sen. Irwin said. “The least we can do is offer a tax credit to help offset those expenses.”

A 2017 survey found 96% of Michigan teachers spend their own money to furnish their classrooms. Seventy-three percent of educators spent more than $300 on their students, and 41% spent more than $500, according to the survey. Items eligible for deduction include books, computer programs, art supplies, classroom learning materials, food and equipment.

“Teachers are using their own money to pay for necessary supplies for their students to make up for cuts to classroom funding,” Rep. Witwer said. “These teachers are already underpaid, and this bill is our chance to pay them back.”

The threshold provided in Irwin’s legislation also addresses the shortcomings of the federal Educator Expense Deduction that only allows educators to deduct up to $250 from their federal taxes.

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