Continued support for the teacher reimbursement tax credit - 261 responses

Dec 11, 2014

Throughout her most recent term, New Hampshire U.S. Rep Carol Shea-Porter strongly advocated for permanent extension of the Classroom Expense Deduction (CED), a $250 tax credit offered to educators who purchase classroom supplies out of their own pockets. The deduction expired on December 31, 2013, but on December 4, 2014, shortly before Shea-Porter was due to leave office, she announced that the CED had been renewed for an additional year as part of a bipartisan package of tax break extensions. In response to the announcement, on December 11 the Live Free or Die Alliance (LFDA) asked Facebook members if they thought teachers should continue to receive a tax credit for school supplies purchased with their own funds.

A majority of 68% of those directly responding to the question agreed that teachers should be credited for unreimbursed classroom expenses, while 32% were opposed. A significant 38% percent of total commenters opted to use the question to discuss broader issues and not register a definitive pro or con. In all, the LFDA received 109 specific comments supported by 152 concurrences, for a total of 261 citizen responses.

Several of those supporting the extension of the tax credit argued that the classroom supplies should be considered an unreimbursed business expense. Others drew comparisons between the CED and tax credits available to large businesses. "Would rather give tax credits to teachers than oil companies," one poster said. "It would be better if the tax payers paid the teacher directly but a credit is better than nothing," said another.

Those opposed to the credit largely argued that school budgets should sufficiently fund the purchase of classroom supplies. Others said that additional supplies purchased by teachers constituted a gift to students. "It should remain a benevolent act," one commenter noted. Additional concern was raised over the lack of oversight involved in claiming the credit. "Who is investigating and authenticating what they spend?" one member asked.

However, both those supporting and those opposed to the extension of the tax credit strongly agreed that teachers should not have to buy their own supplies, and questioned why it was currently necessary. Across the lines of the debate over the CED, some members argued that schools should be better funded, while others held that current funding levels were sufficient but should be reallocated to prioritize classroom supplies.

This debate was also the central concern of those who chose to comment without directly answering the question.  "Stock the schools with enough supplies that the teachers don't have to buy them," one member said.  "What are the schools doing with all the money?" another asked.

Click here to see the full Facebook discussion of this question.

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