Bennet, Collins, Bipartisan House Colleagues Reintroduce Bill to Expand Tax Credit to Early Childhood Educators

Bipartisan SEED Act Would Ensure More Educators Can Access to $300 Educator Expense Deduction

Denver — U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), a member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance, and Susan Collins (R-Maine), a member of the U.S. Senate Education Committee, reintroduced the Supporting Early-Childhood Educators’ Deductions (SEED) Act. The bill would help early childhood educators cover the cost of supplies, books, and other classroom materials by allowing them to claim the above-the-line $300 tax deduction currently available only to K-12 teachers. U.S. Representatives Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.), and Tom Cole (R-Okla.) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“As a former school superintendent, I know that many educators take money out of their own paycheck to provide our kids with the supplies they need to succeed,” said Bennet. “Congress should ensure that all educators – especially those who teach our youngest children – can deduct some of these costs from their taxes. I’m grateful to work with bipartisan partners in both chambers of Congress to pass this bill and deliver for educators and our kids. ”

"Early childhood educators devote their lives to introducing our nation’s students to the world of learning. To ensure that every child has a learning environment that is safe, welcoming, and enriching, many teachers use money out of their own pockets to purchase classroom supplies,” said Collins. "As the author of the original $250 tax credit for K-12 teachers, I am delighted to join this effort to expand this benefit to pre-K educators. This tax credit will help more people by reimbursing early childhood educators for the resources they invest in our children’s future.”

“It’s amazing that there are so many early childhood teachers who pay out of their own pockets for school supplies without getting reimbursed,” said Panetta. “Our bipartisan, bicameral legislation would help those teachers by allowing them to qualify for a tax deduction for those types of out-of-pocket expenses.  The extension of that type of tax deduction for early childhood teachers is the least that we can be doing at the federal level so those teachers at the local level are not only compensated, but also recognized for their outstanding service to our young students.”

“Our pre-K and early education teachers are crucial to the development of children from a young age,” said Fitzpatrick. “These educators should have equal accessibility tax deductions for supplies, and I’m proud to join the bipartisan, bicameral Supporting Early-Childhood Education Deductions (SEED) Act to assist them with classroom supply costs.”

“It’s said that kids are one-third of our population – but are 100 percent of our future. That future is brighter when we invest in early education,” said Kilmer. “While Congress has taken important steps to address some of the financial sacrifices of K-12 teachers, it’s past time it extended the same support to pre-K educators. The SEED Act helps ensure teachers don’t shoulder this burden alone, especially given their pivotal role in our children’s earliest years. Every educator deserves our support in shaping the next generation.”

“Pre-K is a critical investment made in our children during the earliest, most formative years and our nation’s pre-K teachers deserve our full support,” said Cole. “In many cases across the country, teachers of every grade level tend to pay out of pocket to provide their students school supplies, classroom essentials and even clothing and hygienic items in some cases. Because of this, I am proud to cosponsor the SEED Act, which extends to America’s Pre-K teachers the same gratitude we have shown K-12 teachers with a $300 tax deduction to assist in covering these costs.”

Studies show that teachers spend an average of $860 of their own money on classroom materials. In 2002, Congress created an above-the-line educator expense deduction to allow qualifying K-12 teachers and other eligible educators such as counselors and principals to deduct up to $250 of expenses incurred for classroom supplies. However, educators of children in pre-Kindergarten and younger can not currently deduct similar expenses.

“Early childhood educators take on some of the most important jobs in our society, caring for our youngest children in their most formative developmental years, but too often, the respect and compensation for their work simply isn’t commensurate with how much responsibility with they have. In fact, our current tax code is such that a handful of billionaires make more than all of our nation’s kindergarten teachers combined. But a simple solution is to reform the tax code to reward work, not wealth, and make it more fair and just by offering tax credits to hardworking folks like early childhood care workers. We must work for a more equitable tax code. Sen. Bennet and Rep. Panetta’s bill does just that, and helps provide economic opportunity to those doing the care work that makes so much other work possible. It puts families first, and the AFT is proud to support it,” said Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers.

“Dedicated early educators play a critical role in ensuring young children are safe, well cared for, and prepared to enter kindergarten ready to learn. But too often, they have to use their personal funds to supplement the needs of their classroom such as books and materials. That is why we are so grateful to Senators Bennet and Collins for their bipartisan work to introduce the Supporting Early-Childhood Educators' Deductions (SEED) Act. This commonsense proposal would help ensure early educators do not have to shoulder additional costs in providing America’s littlest learners with the supplies they need,” said Sarah Rittling, Executive Director, First Five Years Fund.

“Our country’s teachers are increasingly expected to do more with less, and it’s not sustainable for them or for their students. At Teach For America, we’re committed to creating the conditions for teachers to have their greatest impact, and that includes reducing teachers’ financial burdens, which are often extreme in the rural and urban schools where our corps members and alumni work. The existing tax deduction for K-12 teachers is a great start, and it’s only fair to expand it to early childhood educators, who also dig into their own pockets to ensure students have the classroom supplies they need to learn, lead, and thrive,” said Elisa Villanueva Beard, CEO, Teach For America. 

Bennet, Collins, and Panetta previously introduced this legislation in 2021. 

The text of the bill is available HERE.