Are Back-to-School Supplies Tax Deductible?

school tax deductionsIt’s a common question come tax time. With families investing so much time and money into school supplies, uniforms, private school tuition, and even those notorious school lunches, they want to know what – if anything – is tax deductible. According to the National Retail Federation Back-to-school survey, families are expected to spend over $26 billion on school supplies and that’s just for K-12 – that’s a lot of protractors.

The survey further revealed that the average family will spend slightly less this year than last year on school supplies, clothing, electronics, and shoes. According to the survey, the drop is due to fewer students in households this summer than last year. The survey (published here) detailed how the total spending expected for each family with children in grades K – 12 is $669.28. If this seems a bit high for your household, don’t worry. Some studies site geographic areas with varying expenses and rightly so due to cost of living variances throughout the states.

Regardless of what you pay to get your child(ren) prepared for school, you are not able to deduct school supplies for grades K-12 schooling. Unfortunately, there are no tax credits for back to school purchases. Now if you have one heading off to college or you are taking courses yourself, you may qualify for higher education or work-related course tax deductions. The Internal Revenue Service breaks down the available credits and deductions for those who qualify on their Tax Benefits for Education: Information Center.  

Don’t give up just yet - you may still be able to save on taxes! If your state participates in a sales tax holiday, you don’t have to pay sales tax during a designated period of time (typically over a weekend). Sales taxes are waived on many school supplies, clothing, shoes, and electronics. To find out if your state has a tax-free holiday, and what it covers, check out the details at The Daily Deduction.

Just because you can’t deduct school supplies as a tax break, and perhaps your state doesn’t offer a sales tax break, doesn’t mean you won’t save money. You can save a significant amount of out-of-pocket money by shopping the huge back-to-school sales in stores and online. Retailers get very competitive to tap into this billion dollar business of back-to-school. Stores will offer items as a loss leader, below market cost, just to get you through the doors. You can find some items for just a penny!

It might be tough to learn that there are no back to school tax deductions for your grade school child; but, look on the bright side, it’s not as tough as getting the kids back on a routine schedule.

If you have a question about taxes, that was not answered here, grab your phone and call us at 1-866-871-1040. We are happy to help.

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