Teachers worry GOP tax plan could affect their wallets

Sioux Falls, S.D. - A popular deduction for teachers may be slashed in the upcoming GOP tax bill. Teachers said the education expense deduction allows them to write off $250 worth of their own money that they spend on their students and classrooms. Many teachers like to make their classrooms a fun and educational learning environment. Teachers said to make that happen they often have to reach into their own pockets to buy supplies. Under the new GOP tax bill, teachers may not get back some of that money they spend.

“I always do the max because I do more than that. So I’ve never not done the whole $250,” West Central Elementary School teacher, Cheryl Prunty said.

Being a teacher is about giving back to and teaching the next generation of students.

“I want to be the best teacher I can be and I really want students to feel welcome. I want them to be excited about coming to school,” West Central Elementary School teacher, Jennifer Peterson said.

Teachers said often times creating those environments means spending your own money.

“90 percent of what’s in this classroom is mine. Belongs to me. I’ve purchased myself so yeah I’ve bought a lot of stuff to make learning fun and to make kids successful in school,” Laura Wilder Elementary School teacher, Robin Kappenman said.

“It’s something that I love to do. People might say you don't need to do it, but you want your classroom to be welcoming and a good comfortable learning environment for the students,” Prunty said.

Without even realizing it, teachers are seeing that bill rack up fast.

“So this last year I actually did a classroom remodel where I changed the whole theme of my classroom. I decided to do more flexible seating options and I took a lot of desks out of my room and I probably spent around $750 just this summer,” Peterson said.

Those teachers said the education expense deduction does help, but if it’s cut, it won’t change the way they teach.

“The deduction was nice at the time it made me feel like I was a little more worthy. It isn't going to change how I do things. I’m still going to buy for my kids and make sure that they have what they need to be successful,” Kappenman said.

“I’m fortunate that I’m a 25 year veteran so I’m a little more stable financially. I worry a lot about the young teachers, the newer teachers who don't have that stability yet,” Prunty said.

“I’m more focused getting that atmosphere. If it means we eat macaroni and cheese for a couple days in my household we've done that before,” Kappenman said.

The GOP tax plan is affecting education in other ways as well. It would remove the interest deduction for those paying off student loan debt.