The last few years have had both teachers and students learning to navigate the educational system online. For some, this has meant the need to purchase or upgrade an internet connection that they would not have needed otherwise. In some cases, the expense of internet service might be deductible.
Deduct Internet for Online Classes
According to the IRS, you can often deduct qualified educational expenses, including internet, if you are enrolled in an eligible institution of higher education. The one caveat is that you must pay the internet bill directly to the institution and not to an internet provider.
Some states allow parents who had to do school at home to deduct internet and other expenses. These deductions allow you to take off educational expenses for yourself, your spouse or a dependent.
Internet Deduction for Employees
If you're an employee needing to take online classes for work, keep in mind that recent tax law changes mean that employees usually can no longer deduct non-reimbursed work expenses, such as internet access. In the past, you could sometimes deduct these types of expenses if they fell into certain categories. Now, this is not the case.
You can deduct internet as a business expense if you have your own business, but you cannot if you are employed by someone else. Some education expenses can still be deducted, but for most employees, they no longer qualify for this deduction.
Tax Deductions for Teachers
According to the IRS, teachers who teach in a regular classroom can deduct up to $250 of their educational expenses that were not reimbursed by a grant or other employer for the 2021 tax year. This can include computers, internet, supplies and books.
Technology expenses are an allowable deduction if you need them to perform your work. This applies to teachers of grades K-12 as well as instructors, counselors, administrators, or teachers of higher education. To be eligible, you must work at least 900 hours per year.
Online Teacher Tax Deductions
As an online teacher, the internet is essential to be able to work. As such, the IRS allows you to deduct out-of-pocket expenses related to the work you do up to the $250 limit. Whether you teach online due to the circumstances created by the pandemic or you have chosen this as the way to put your talents to use full time, you need to be aware of certain tax write-offs for which you qualify.
Online teaching tax deductions include money spent for props, educational aids, classroom décor for filming, and student rewards incentives. You can also deduct other expenses, like your computer and other required tech services and software. All this counts when your primary location for teaching is online.
Can I Write Off Internet?
If you're an employee who isn't a teacher giving online classes, you generally can't write of your internet. But if you run a business at home and do not have a traditional job, then you can deduct internet expenses from your Schedule C. In any case, you will need to make sure you qualify and allocate the business-related cost only.
Now, you know several ways that you might be able to deduct the cost of internet service. The IRS guidelines are clear about what can be deducted legitimately, but the guidelines can be complex. As a student, the rules for deducting educational expenses are more stringent and only allow you to take deductions if you meet strict guidelines.
You Must Prove Online Teacher Tax Deductions
If you're a teacher, the burden of proof is on you to prove these expenses are necessary for your job. The most important thing to remember is to keep your receipts, make sure that you understand the rules and contact a tax professional if you are unsure about anything.
Adam Luehrs is a writer during the day and a voracious reader at night. He focuses mostly on finance writing and has a passion for real estate, credit card deals, and investing.