School bells are ringing all over the country as parents send their children back to school. That means it’s also time for teachers to return to the classroom. We all know that teachers spend long hours preparing for their students, even during their summer break. They also spend their own money to make sure every student has the resources they need to succeed. Most teachers see these out-of-pocket expenses as just part of the job and part of their dedication to their students. However, they shouldn’t overlook the tax benefits that the IRS has established for educators. That’s why it’s important for teachers to track their expenses now so they don’t lose out on valuable tax deductions come April 15.

Educator Expense Deduction

One of the easiest teacher tax deductions to claim is the Educator Expense Deduction. This allows teachers, counselors, principals, teachers’ aides, and other employees of K-12 schools to deduct up to $250 per person for unreimbursed expenses. This includes books, school supplies, computers, software, and other things that were purchased for classroom use.

Lifetime Learning Credit

Certified teachers must complete continuing education courses on a regular basis. Although there are many affordable options for teachers to get their hours (many states offer courses that are free or nearly free), many educators must still pay for these classes. If the classes are offered in a traditional college environment, they can cost hundreds—if not thousands—of dollars. That’s where the Lifetime Learning Credit can help. The Lifetime Learning Credit helps students of all ages at all educational levels by allowing them to deduct up to $2000 in expenses each year.

Of course, as with all tax deductions, there are requirements that must be met in order to claim these credits. Talk to your tax preparation professional to find out if you qualify. But just to be certain, hang on to those receipts so you’ll have all the documentation you need come tax time.