Lawmakers seek extension of teacher tax credit
© Greg Nash

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) on Wednesday called on members of the House to support a bill to permanently extend a tax credit for teachers, in order to help reimburse them for school supplies they buy with their own money.

On the House floor, Ros-Lehtinen noted that this $250 deduction expired last year and was not included in a tax reform plan offered by Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.). As a result, she said she would help send a letter to House members in the coming days asking for a hearing on this issue.

Ros-Lehtinen is an original cosponsor of the REPAY Supplies Act, which Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-N.H.) introduced late last year. She said the letter will ask the Ways and Means Committee to hold a hearing on that bill, H.R. 3318.

"I hope that my colleagues will join us in signing this letter to the Ways & Means Committee, and give teachers an opportunity to testify before Congress about the impact the deduction has had on their checkbooks and on their classrooms," she said.

Ros-Lehtinen warned that without the tax deduction, it would be harder for teachers to ensure they have the right teaching materials. She cited one study that said teachers spend nearly $500 a year for basic supplies.

"Too often, teachers go into their own pockets to make up the difference," she said. "By making this tax deduction permanent, Congress can give teachers certainty that at least some of their purchases will be paid back."

As of Wednesday, the bill had 54 co-sponsors, including Ros-Lehtinen and six other Republicans.