Colorado Proposes $1,000 Tax Credit For Teachers To Pay For School Supplies

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Colorado lawmakers have come up with a new proposal to end the practice of teachers spending their own money to buy classroom supplies. For this, lawmakers have proposed a $1,000 tax credit for teachers each year for school supplies.

Much Needed Tax Credit For Teachers

Colorado lawmakers have proposed House Bill 1208 that, if approved, would reimburse full-time, licensed public school teachers $1,000 each year to buy school supplies. If approved, this tax credit for teachers would run through Jan. 1, 2027. 

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Teachers will be free to use the credit on school supplies, as well as on field trips, professional development, supplemental educational materials and other items that "improve the quality of the educational services that they provide," the bill says.

It seems to be a much-needed tax credit for teachers. More than 90% of teachers spend their own money to buy classroom supplies, according to the National Education Association.

Moreover, the U.S. Department of Education survey claims that teachers spent on average $479 per year on classroom supplies prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Other recent estimates put the recent years average annual out-of-pocket expenses at $750, with 20% to 30% of teachers spending over $1,000.

Presently, the educator expense deduction in Colorado is $300. It is, however, estimated that educators, on average, spend $820 from their own pocket on school supplies.

Not The First Time

This is not the first time lawmakers have attempted to come up with such a credit. Similar bills have been introduced at least five times since 2019, but each time the bill failed to make it to a full chamber vote.

House Bill 1208, however, differs from the previous bills in two ways – it offers more money and to fewer teachers. Earlier proposals offered a tax credit of $500 or $750. Also, unlike HB 1208 that limits tax credit eligibility to full-time, licensed public school teachers, earlier bills proposed the credit for K-12 teachers and paraprofessionals with some limitations.


Last week, the proposed bill (HB1208) passed its first vote in the House Education Committee by 7-4. Although the bill enjoys a bi-partisan sponsorship, all Republicans in the committee voted against it.

Opponents of the bill argue that the credit should be made available to licensed, as well as unlicensed teachers. On the other hand, those in favor believe that limiting the scope to licensed teachers only would make the bill acceptable to all.

The bill will now head to the House Finance Committee. This tax credit for teachers is estimated to cost the state about $17.7 million in 2023, and around $35.8 million each subsequent year.

Cost is another reason why this bill could die in the legislature. Earlier this year, a Senate committee rejected a similar Republican-backed bill (costing $19.1 million in 2023), with opponents arguing that the money could be better spent on broad education funding.