Tax Tips for Adjuncts

Adjuncts financially need all the help they can get.

Adjuncts teach college courses, ranging from entry-level to advanced, but are temporary workers. Colleges usually hire adjuncts for a semester, sometimes longer, to fill in for a faculty member on leave or to cover extra teaching loads. Because they are not full-time or permanent, the college or university does not provide adjuncts with benefits and pays them significantly less than their tenured colleagues. As a result, adjunct instructors should spend time preparing their records to minimize their tax burden. Adjuncts should always consult tax professionals, however, for definitive answers.

Keep Records Consistently

To complete any project, a system is necessary that reliably captures and stores information until it is needed. This is especially true for financial records, and the adjunct instructor should decide early how she will keep records so that when tax season arrives, all necessary information and materials are in one place. Methods range from using file folders to computer programs and a scanner to a shoe box. Whatever is decided, the adjunct should stick to that system to contain all receipts, records of professional events or activities and possible expenses. Having a system in place helps the instructor maximize her chances of more deductions and reduces the potential for an audit.

Teaching Supplies and Professional Expenses

The considerable amount of work it takes to lecture effectively, or lead a class exercise, may also be deducted. Adjuncts should record the price of equipment, software writing supplies, cost of subscribing to journals and research databases, books and paper used to execute teaching. In certain situations, these supply costs may reduce the tax burden. While some faculty members get these supplies from their department office, adjuncts may not have the same access; costs to teach well, unfortunately, can add up quickly. Adjuncts also usually do not have access to department travel funds. If they travel to an academic conference for work, according to IRS publication 529, teachers can deduct "unreimbursed employee expenses."

Home Office

Most adjuncts do not get office space, or if they do it is shared with several others. To get any work done, therefore, many adjuncts need to use their home. The IRS allows educators with home offices to claim part of it as an expense. If an adjunct owns his home, he may deduct a part of his mortgage payment that corresponds to the home office's square footage within the total home. For adjuncts who use a personal computer 60 percent or more for work, they may be able to claim an additional deduction. Furthermore, if adjuncts use their home Internet for work and research, the cost may be deducted as well. For these deductions and more, adjuncts should consult IRS schedules A and C for specific information and requirements.

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