Can I Claim an Alternative Teacher Certification Program on My Taxes?

by Cynthia Gaffney ; Updated March 29, 2018

Alternative teacher certification programs vary quite a bit because each state provides its own form of such programs. However, the programs generally aim to provide a faster track to becoming a teacher than traditional programs, while offering more preparation than you would otherwise get from obtaining an emergency teaching credential. If you participate in one of these programs, you may be able to deduct some of the costs on your tax return or be eligible for certain tax credits.

Alternative Teacher Certification Programs

Many school districts experience ongoing teacher shortages. Alternative teacher programs typically offer a good deal of on-the-job training because their goal is to fast-track teachers into classrooms. Alternative programs typically require a bachelor's degree to compensate for not having a teaching degree or a graduate program completion. Alternative teaching certification programs usually result in students getting a standard teaching certificate or some type of provisional or alternative certificate. The certification could be provided by a nonprofit or for-profit organization, a school district or a college of education.

Deductions for Education Expenses

If you are a student pursuing an alternative teacher certificate, you may be able to deduct the interest from any student loans used to pay the expenses of the educational program. Additionally, you may be able to take advantage of the Lifetime Learning Credit if you've already had some type of career exposure in the teaching profession. The Lifetime Learning Credit covers expenses incurred to further or enhance your work experience, such as obtaining an alternative teacher certification, and could qualify you for up to a $2,000 tax credit for each year of the educational program.

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Classroom and Related Expenses

The IRS offers several education-related deductions, including a tuition and fees deduction, and a deduction for work-related educational expenses. If you're already working as a teacher in some capacity, any additional expenses you incur for your certification may qualify as work-related expenses.

As you begin your teaching career, you'll spend time working in the classroom and may need classroom materials not provided by your school employer. If you pay for any of these out of your pocket, the IRS allows educators to deduct expenses, such as the unreimbursed cost of classroom materials like computers, books, supplies and related software or services and other classroom equipment.

About the Author

Cynthia Gaffney started writing in 2007 and has penned tax and finance articles for several different websites. She brings more than 20 years of experience in corporate finance and business ownership. Gaffney holds a Bachelor of Science in finance and business economics from the University of Southern California.

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