Any Tax Breaks for Homeschoolers?


Tax season has officially launched, so it’s time to address a question I am frequently asked,

Do homeschoolers get any tax breaks for their homeschooling expenses? Can a homeschool family deduct any of their homeschool expenses?

Sorry, but the federal government does not give a tax credits for homeschool expenses

State tax credits or deductions for homeschool expenses

But, several states have an educational tax credit. Iowa, Arizona, Minnesota and Illinois all have some sort of  tax break for individuals. The credit is available to any public or private school student, so it is not unique to homeschoolers. Florida and Pennsylvania offer businesses tax credits if they sponsor a scholarship.

This document has a chart of education tax credits and deductions by state (updated November 2008). Scroll to page 6 to see the chart.

Home School Legal Defense Association has an explanation of some states’ tax breaks or credits:

Homeschool business or nonprofit as a tax dodge?

Some homeschoolers think they can start a business or a nonprofit organization of their homeschool activities and then deduct their expenses.  It doesn’t work that way. See my blog post  “Can you set up homeschooling as a business?”

Ann Zeise of A to Z Home’s Cool addresses these ideas:

You cannot contribute to your own child’s K12 education and get any tax deduction for it, no more than if you sent him to a private school and tried to write off the tuition.

Carol Topp, CPA

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  1. Just stumbled across your website. Thanks for posting such concise and thorough information. It’s a valuable contribution.

  2. It seems so unfair/wrong to be required to pay school taxes AND to pay your own way for either homeschooling or private school. It is time for new thinking.

  3. I’m looking for information regarding North Carolina’s taxes and requirements. I read that homeschooling is considered as being a job (249.02 section N of the DHS NC manual ) and should be listed so that the applicant is exempt from work requirements. This doesn’t tell me whether or not our family’s benefits will change at all. I read that many homeschoolers simply do not mention it in their applications, but I don’t want to break the law. How does homeschooling affect snap benefits, if at all?

    My partner and I are not married and therefore he is not able to claim my child on taxes. Since I do not pay in, I do not owe or get a pay out. This knocked me out of my first time homebuyers credit (the house is in my name only), a yearly dependent (child) credit, and I am assuming it will knock me out of any homeschool credit that might be available as well. Is tht right?

  4. I’m not familiar with NC taxes or benefit programs like SNAP, but I am familiar with federal tax credits.
    You said you do not pay in meaning, I guess, that you don’t have any income because you are homeschooling your children.
    If you don’t have income you are not entitled to income tax credits (like the first time home buyers credit, Earned Income Credit, or child tax credit. These credits are all for workers who have earned income. You have no income and no tax to pay and therefore no tax credits to lower your taxes paid.

  5. It seems really unfair that homeschooling parents should also pay property taxes for public schools… feels like discrimination, honestly. I don’t want my child to be indoctrinated by the mainstream school system and bullied. Why should we have to pay into a system that we don’t use?

  6. Public Schools in NC : you will find good teachers, good people and not too good people working in there BUT I am sure your child will be BULLIED A LOT by other students. And nobody will REALLY resolve this matter. If you think well we will be talking about HOMESCHOOLING your kids. If the Public schools are no longer a good place to send your child and you pay taxes for this…..what about having RIGHT to stop paying taxes for public schools and with this money home school your child?

  7. I was researching the Educator Expense Deduction in the Federal Tax Code. Since the code states an eligible educator is one who instructs in a school ‘as determined under state law’, it would seem for those who live in states that recognize home schools as a replacement for public education – the teaching parent qualifies. What am I missing since I’ve found ZERO question about this?

    Topic 458 – Educator Expense Deduction

    If you’re an eligible educator, you can deduct up to $250 ($500 if married filing jointly and both spouses are eligible educators, but not more than $250 each) of unreimbursed trade or business expenses. Qualified expenses are amounts you paid or incurred for participation in professional development courses, books, supplies, computer equipment (including related software and services), other equipment, and supplementary materials that you use in the classroom. ……
    You’re an eligible educator if, for the tax year you’re a kindergarten through grade 12 teacher, instructor, counselor, principal or aide for at least 900 hours a school year in a school that provides elementary or secondary education as determined under state law.

  8. I’ve answered this question on my blog before here and here.

    My reply in a nutshell is this:
    To work means to get paid. Homeschool parents are not employees of a school. We do not get paid; we do not get a W-2. I attended a tax workshop where we were told that the IRS will check for a W-2 from a school if a taxpayer takes the Educator Expense deduction. Homeschoolers would not have a W-2 from a school, even if your state classifies your homeschool as a private school.

    Carol Topp, CPA

  9. Hello:
    I believe my question takes a different path of “traditional” homeschooling. If one were to hire educators (defined by State/Federal and Tax code) to educate your child at home, whether full time or part time or supplemenatal to parents time teaching – versus a traditional private school enrollment, is there any tax leniency for those payments, generally speaking?

    Conversely, I would assume if the child (ren) were also enrolled/attached to a local homeschooling center/activity/field trip program that was established as a non-profit, such payment(s) would be deductible?

    Lastly, what about homeschooling with child care? Meaning, you have a licensed paid care-giver whether as a business or W2 performing childcare, again either full time, part time or supplemental whom is also an educator – could the amounts paid to this person be dedicated as childcare?

  10. Thank you for your comments.
    I am happy to answer your questions by email, but it can be very time consuming to read and reply to emails.

    I will respond briefly to a few of your questions:

    You asked, “If one were to hire educators … is there any tax leniency for those payments, generally speaking?”

    No, these are personal educational expenses and are not tax deductible.

    You asked, “if the child (ren) were also enrolled/attached to a local homeschooling center/activity/field trip program that was established as a non-profit, such payment(s) would be deductible”

    No, these are personal educational expenses and are NOT tax deductible.

    As for “homeschooling with child care” This is quite complex, especially with all the variations you are considering. I would have to research your question and know more specifics of your situation (age of the children, conditions about the parent working, etc).

    If you would like me to research the answer to your question about homeschooling and child care tax deductions, I am happy to do that and I will research and reply to your question and send an invoice.

    Carol Topp, CPA

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