Bill would make some teachers eligible for tax credits

Written by Matt Paul and Radio Pennsylvania | Dec 15, 2013 4:54 AM
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(Harrisburg) -- Teachers who dig into their own pockets to pay for school supplies would be eligible for a state tax credit up to $500 under recently unveiled legislation.

State Representative Jake Wheatley is the prime sponsor. The Allegheny County Democrat says the dollar-for-dollar credit would provide teachers with a small reimbursement for their dedication.

“We think it’s a small amount to our general budget for a tremendous amount of service and relief," he says.

"We offer all sorts of tax credits. There could be no more worthy cause for a tax credit than to help our educators provide the bare necessities for our students.”

Wheatley estimates 120,000 thousand teachers would be eligible for the credit, costing the commonwealth up to $65-million.

The bill has the backing of Pennsylvania's largest teachers union. Rich Askey, a Harrisburg music teacher and Pennsylvania State Education Association board member, says most teachers he works with spend hundreds of dollars on their classrooms.

“Think of the first year teacher who is entering his or her classroom for the first time," he explains.

"Just getting their first paycheck, saddled with student loans and just getting started - they also have the added expense of setting up their very first classroom.”

A similar bill introduced in the Senate would include a $15-million cap.

A $250 federal deduction for educator expenses is set to expire at the end of the year.

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