Indiana Law Journal

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2021

Publication Citation

96 Indiana Law Journal 911 (2021)


American educators are notoriously overworked and underpaid. With high performance demands and near-stagnant pay, teachers tend to burn out quickly, which in turn negatively affects the quality of education that their students receive. This effect is most evident in Title I schools, public schools with low funding allocation and high concentrations of low-income students.

One of the benefits that teachers do receive is the Educators Expense Deduction, a federal income tax deduction permitting teachers to write off up to $250 of unreimbursed supplies purchased for the classroom. This deduction was codified in 2002 and has not been amended since, in spite of major changes to how schools are funded and operated, such as the No Child Left Behind Act and the Great Recession, and the resulting increase in out-of-pocket money that teachers must spend on their own classrooms.

In this Note, I explore the content and history of the Educators Expense Deduction, identify changes in the economy and curriculum content since the deduction’s inception, and discuss how teachers have responded to (and, at times, retaliated against) these changes. Finally, I propose two major changes to the Educators Expense Deduction, raising the deduction amount for all teachers and adding a further deduction for teachers working in Title I schools.