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Attention teachers: Those school expenses might be tax deductible

School may look a little different this year, but eligible teachers and other educators can still deduct certain unreimbursed expenses on their tax return next year.

Who is considered an eligible educator:
The taxpayer must be a kindergarten through grade 12 teacher, instructor, counselor, principal or aide. They must also work at least 900 hours a school year in a school that provides elementary or secondary education as determined under state law.

Things to know about this deduction:
Educators can deduct up to $250 of trade or business expenses that were not reimbursed. As teachers prepare for the school year, they should remember to keep receipts after making any purchase to support claiming this deduction.
 
The deduction is $500 if both taxpayers are eligible educators and file their return using the status married filing jointly. These taxpayers cannot deduct more than $250 each.
 
Qualified expenses are amounts the taxpayer paid themselves during the tax year.
 
Examples of expenses the educator can deduct include:

  • Professional development course fees
  • Books
  • Supplies
  • Computer equipment, including related software and services
  • Other equipment and materials used in the classroom

What to do if you missed the July 15 deadline to file and pay your taxes

While the federal income tax-filing deadline has passed for most people, some taxpayers haven’t filed their 2019 tax returns yet.

If you are entitled to a refund, there’s no penalty for filing late. Penalties and interest will begin to accrue on any remaining unpaid tax due as of July 16, 2020.

If you didn’t file and owe tax you should file a return as soon as you can and pay as much as possible to reduce penalties and interest. Electronic filing options, including IRS Free File, are still available on IRS.gov through Oct. 15, 2020 to prepare and file returns electronically.

You should then review your payment options. The IRS has information for taxpayers who can’t pay taxes they owe.

Some taxpayers may have extra time to file their tax returns and pay any taxes due. This includes some disaster victims, military service members and eligible support personnel in combat zones.

Filing soon is very important because the late-filing penalty and late-payment penalty on unpaid taxes adds up quickly. However, in some cases, a taxpayer filing after the deadline may qualify for penalty relief. For those charged a penalty, they may contact the IRS by calling the number on their notice and explain why they couldn’t file and pay on time. 

Additionally, taxpayers who have a history of filing and paying on time often qualify for administrative penalty relief. A taxpayer will usually qualify if they have filed and paid timely for the past three years and meet other requirements. For more information, see the first-time penalty abatement page on IRS.gov.

Tax returns are due today; taxpayers who can’t pay should still file today

Today, 2019 tax returns are due. Taxpayers should remember to file or request an extension of time to file and pay any taxes they owe by the July 15 deadline to avoid penalties and interest. Here are some tips for taxpayers who owe tax, but who can’t immediately pay their tax bill.

Taxpayers should:

  • File their tax return or request an extension of time to file by the July 15 deadline.
    • People who owe tax and do not file their return on time or request an extension may face a failure-to-file penalty for not filing on time.
    • Taxpayers should remember that an extension of time to file is not an extension of time to pay.
      • An extension gives taxpayers until Oct. 15, 2020 to file their 2019 tax return, but taxes owed are still due July 15, 2020.

  • Pay as much as possible by the July 15 due date.
    • Whether filing a return or requesting an extension, taxpayers must pay their tax bill in full by the July filing deadline to avoid penalties and interest.
    • People who do not pay their taxes on time will face a failure-to-pay penalty.
    •  IRS.gov has information for taxpayers who can’t afford to pay taxes they owe.

  • Set up a payment plan as soon as possible.
    • Taxpayers who owe but cannot pay in full by the deadline don’t have to wait for a tax bill to request a payment plan.
    • They can apply for a payment plan on IRS.gov.
    • Taxpayers can also submit a payment plan request in writing using Form 9465, Installment Agreement Request.

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