MEA survey shows 96 percent of educators spend personal money on supplies while Congress debates eliminating $250 Educator Expense Tax Deduction
EAST LANSING – In 2017, public school employees across Michigan reached into their own pockets to pay for essential school supplies. A survey released today by the Michigan Education Association details this trend over the past year, illustrating how teachers and education support professionals are spending their own money to equip classrooms and attend to students’ basic needs.
The survey was conducted as Congress works on a tax plan that could potentially eliminate the Educator Expense Tax Deduction, used by many school employees to recoup up to $250 for out-of-pocket supply expenses.
“An overwhelming majority of Michigan educators rely on this $250 deduction to ensure their students have the supplies they need to be successful in the classroom,” said MEA President Paula Herbart. “Teachers and school support staff are already dealing with stagnant pay, declining benefits and smaller school budgets – removing this tax credit for their generous out-of-pocket purchases is an outright attack on public schools and the education profession.”
Among those surveyed, 96 percent spent money out of their own pockets for school supplies. The survey found 73 percent of educators spent more than $300 total on their students in 2017 – 41 percent spent in excess of $500.
The survey was conducted from Monday, Dec. 4 to Thursday, Dec. 7, and included responses from more than 3,000 members of the Michigan Education Association.
Below is a list of the Top 10 school supplies purchased most often out-of-pocket by Michigan educators, according to the survey:
- Writing utensils
- Art supplies
- Sticky notes
- Chalk and/or dry erase markers
According to the survey, many teachers and support staff also spend money out-of-pocket on non-deductible supplies to help their students. Items like food and clothing for students, health and cleaning supplies, and materials to make classrooms a better learning environment (like decorations and furniture) are not covered by the tax deduction, but many purchase them anyway and find them essential to student success.
The Top 10 non-deductible school supplies purchased out of pocket by Michigan educators in 2017 included:
- Classroom decorations
- Hand soap/hand sanitizer
- Cleaning supplies
- Storage bins/shelves
- Classroom furniture
“Educators spend their own money on these essential items to keep students healthy,” said Herbart. “They purchase basic supplies to keep classrooms operating. They buy furniture and decorations to create inviting learning environments. They spend money on materials and equipment to involve students in experiential learning.
“Educators live their commitment to students every day, and they deserve so much better than the declining support and constant criticism they receive from some policymakers.”
Contact: Doug Pratt, MEA Director of Public Affairs, (517) 337-5508