Murphy, Davis Want K-12 Tax Deduction Made Available to Athletic Coaches, Administrators

May 24, 2021 by Reece Nations

WASHINGTON — Reps. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., and Rodney Davis, R-Ill., are sponsoring legislation that would expand a federal tax deduction so K-12 athletic coaches and administrators are eligible for reimbursement should they pay out of pocket to buy equipment and supplies.

The bill, authored by Murphy and cosponsored by Davis, would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to include deductible expenses for certain supplies and open the deduction up to interscholastic sports administrators and coaches. Currently, eligible educators may deduct up to $250 of unreimbursed business expenses.

“A high school or middle school coach who spends their own money to buy equipment and supplies for their student-athletes, especially items to reduce the risk that a student-athlete will contract COVID-19, should be able to take a federal tax deduction for those purchases,” Murphy said in a written statement. “I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan bill with Congressman Davis to support athletic coaches and administrators who work so hard to support student-athletes and keep them safe.” 

The bill would amend the existing revenue code by striking “in the classroom” and inserting “as part of instructional activity,” into its subsections, according to the text of the bill. The bill would also specify that an “interscholastic sports administrator or coach,” is eligible for the deduction. 

Current deductions for school supplies may be claimed by “eligible educators,” but not coaches or athletic directors, according to the text of the internal revenue code. The legislation is supported by the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association, according to a release from Murphy’s office.  

“As a former youth football and baseball coach, I know that coaches and athletic staff go above and beyond for their players in making sure they have the equipment and supplies they need to play,” Davis said in a written statement. “That’s why I’m proud to team up with Congresswoman Murphy to introduce this bipartisan bill. As our economy begins to reopen, school sports and athletics resuming will be a key part of returning to normal. We should be supporting coaches and athletic staff in making that happen, and this legislation is one way we can do that.”

Presently, qualified expenses under the deduction encompass amounts paid for professional development courses, books, supplies, computer equipment [including related software and services], other equipment, and supplementary materials utilized specifically by educators in the classroom, according to the IRS. 

In addition, deduction also applies to expenses incurred after March 12, 2020, for personal protective equipment, disinfectant, and other supplies used to curb the spread of COVID-19. Last week, the bill was introduced in the House of Representatives and referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means where it currently awaits a hearing. 

“We thank Congresswoman Murphy and Congressman Davis for this bill that directly offers a positive benefit to interscholastic athletic administrators,” NIAAA Executive Director Mike Blackburn said in a written statement. “Just as the original 1986 IRS code allows deductions for out-of-pocket educator costs, this bill offers the same financial option to those in the profession of high school and middle school athletic administration and coaching. We appreciate our supportive members of the U.S. Congress, as well as our advocates, and NIAAA Board of Directors.”

Murphy took part in another bipartisan initiative last Congressional session to expand the deduction to eligible educators if they purchased air purifiers, cleaning supplies, and personal protective equipment like masks for their classrooms in an effort to combat COVID-19. Her bill, the “Supporting Educators During COVID-19 Act,” was enacted in December as part of the “Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.” 

The amendments to the code would apply to taxable years beginning after Dec. 31, 2020, should the legislation become law, according to the bill’s text. 

“Athletic directors like myself are dedicated professionals to their athletic programs,” Lanness Robinson, former NIAAA president and director of Athletics for Hillsborough County Public Schools in Tampa, Fla., said in a written statement. “That dedication results in a ‘do whatever it takes attitude’ to have the best athletic program imaginable. Combine that character trait with shrinking budgets and the result generally means that ADs across the country reach into their pockets and use personal resources to support their athletic programs.  

Robinson continued, “A tax deduction to offset the personal expenses incurred is just a sign of appreciation for all of the sacrifices made by ADs. Thank you to everyone involved in the process of attempting to recognize the efforts of ADs.” 

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