Tax plan eliminates deduction for teachers; Rice says loss is of - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Tax plan eliminates deduction for teachers; Rice says loss is offset

Rep. Tom Rice says the elimination of certain deductions would be offset by an increase in the standard deduction. (Source: AP Images) Rep. Tom Rice says the elimination of certain deductions would be offset by an increase in the standard deduction. (Source: AP Images)

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - House Republicans plan to vote on a tax overhaul Thursday.

“What our bill is designed to do is put more money in the pockets of the American taxpayers,” said Representative Tom Rice. “The average family of four will receive an additional tax benefit of $1,200.

Rep. Rice is on the Ways and Means Committee that crafted the Republican plan. He says an increase in the standard deduction, among other things, will mean more money in the average family’s pocket. WMBF News asked Rice about a specific part of the plan to eliminate a deduction for teachers. Right now, teachers can deduct up to $250 in classroom expenses.

“We took deductions away that were very targeted and often not used, and put more money in people's pockets,” he said.

WMBF Investigates checked the claim the deduction was not often used. The US Treasury says teachers got $210 million dollars back thanks to that deduction alone in 2016. Rice later clarified, saying anecdotally, he didn't know of many teachers who used it.

“The deduction for teachers, for example, was limited to $250 per year,” he said. “That was the deduction. That is not the amount you get back. That's the deduction. So, if a teacher is in a 12-percent bracket and they can write off $250 a year, it's putting $30 a year in their pocket. It's really not a very useful deduction.”

WMBF News asked about this specific deduction after an investigation during the last school year revealed local teachers are spending more than $630 out-of-pocket on average.

“We feel like it's much more important to get people to where they don't pay as much taxes to begin with,” Rice said.

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