Tax conformity matters to Maine teachers and families

Reprinted with permission from the Department of Administrative and Financial Services (DAFS).

AUGUSTA — As tax conformity legislation continues to make its way through the Maine Legislature, the Department of Administrative and Financial Services (DAFS) has heard from stakeholders in the education community asking about the effects of this proposal on teachers.

The legislation, proposed by DAFS, conforms Maine’s tax code to the federal Internal Revenue Code in two particular areas concerning education:

  • Teacher Expense Deduction: The Administration’s proposal would permanently conform Maine to the federal teacher expense deduction, an important tax break to Maine teachers who purchase classroom supplies out of their own pocket. The teacher expense deduction has existed for a number of years and has been utilized by approximately 18,000 primary and secondary education teachers in Maine. The teacher expense deduction allows teachers to deduct up to $250 for classroom related expenses each year.
  • Tuition Expense Deduction: Another important tax provision makes higher education more accessible to Maine families. The tuition expense, now only a federal tax deduction, allows Maine families to reduce their taxable income by up to a $4,000 for qualified tuition costs and related expenses. This deduction primarily benefits low- and middle-income taxpayers and is estimated to benefit more than 6,000 Maine families. If the Maine Legislature approves the legislation proposed by the Administration, 2016 will mark the first year the tuition expense deduction is offered to Maine families.

If the tax conformity legislation does not pass, Maine teachers will not be able to claim the expense deduction on their Maine taxes for 2015, 2016 and future years, and Maine families will not be able to deduct qualifying higher education costs through the tuition expense deduction.  Taxpayers affected by the Legislature’s inaction on the Department’s proposal are encouraged to pick up the phone and call their legislators, write them a letter or send them an email. A complete list of members of the Maine Legislature can be found on the House of Representatives’ website.

For more information contact DAFS’ Director of Communications David Heidrich at 624-7453.