Are Homeschool Expenses Tax Deductible?

January 22, 2024 by Carolyn Richardson, EA, MBA
Boy Playing Violin

Are homeschoolers allowed to deduct the cost of classes for skills they do not possess? i.e. ballet classes as a PE subject, piano lessons as a music class, etc.

-Laurel, CO

Hello Laurel,

Thank you for sending your question to our blog! It’s a great question, and I’m sure many other homeschoolers are also looking for answers. You asked if you are allowed to deduct the cost of classes for skills that the homeschooling parent doesn’t possess, such as ballet classes for physical education or piano lessons for a music class.

Unfortunately, while homeschooling can get quite expensive, at the current time, there are no tax breaks designated specifically for homeschoolers by the federal government. Tuition costs are a personal expense and therefore not deductible, and this includes things like ballet or piano lessons. Parents who opt for these classes when their children attend public or private schools don’t get a deduction, nor do homeschooling parents. While the idea of providing tax incentives for homeschoolers and private schools has been kicked around quite a bit, particularly by the Republican caucus in Congress, due to both the cost and political infighting, nothing has actually been passed. As recently as October 2023, there was some discussion about this, but the recent bipartisan proposal for a tax bill that is currently pending does not include any provisions for homeschoolers. However, there are a few states that offer individual credits and incentives for homeschoolers, including Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, and Minnesota, but it does not appear that Colorado, where you live, has any similar provisions. But you may want to check with your state tax agency regarding your question.

Another misconception is that the homeschooling parent can claim the Educator Expense deduction on their tax return. This is a $300 deduction available to qualified educators who teach kindergarten through high school for at least 900 hours a year. However, the IRS specifically excludes homeschooling costs from this deduction (see the instructions for Form 1040, Schedule 1, for more information).

Keep in mind that, eventually, your kids may want to go to college and there is some help here, although there is no deduction for it. Nearly all states offer Qualified Tuition Programs (QTPs), also known as 529 plans. These plans allow you to prepay tuition costs for an eligible education institution or contribute to a savings plan that grows tax-deferred. Setting aside the money into a 529 plan isn’t tax deductible (although some states do allow a deduction), but if the distributions are used to pay for qualified education expenses of the plan’s beneficiary, they are not taxable. Your state government can give you more information on these programs. While 529 programs are generally used to pay for college educations, they can also be used to pay for eligible elementary or secondary school expenses (kindergarten through 12th grade), including public, private, or religious schools. State law determines whether the school is eligible so, again, you may want to check with your state to see if homeschooling qualifies. Even if you cannot withdraw money for yourself from a 529 plan to pay for the homeschooling expenses, you may be able to take distributions to pay others to help school your children, particularly if you belong to one of the many homeschooling organizations.

That being said, there are a few options that you might consider regarding your homeschoolers that may help offset some of the costs, or at least help you educate your children in skills you do not possess. My sister homeschooled her son for many years, and a good friend is currently homeschooling her son, so here are their suggestions:

If you don’t already belong to your local homeschool organization, you should join to take advantage of everything they offer. These organizations also organize conventions and meetings where you may be able to find resources at prices lower than you would normally pay. Look into whether you can obtain some curriculum materials second-hand or for free. Many homeschool organizations offer swaps of materials as children “age out” of their prior school materials. Likewise, many homeschool organizations organize group classes for their members to share skills one parent might have that another doesn’t possess. For example, a friend of mine works with a homeschool group and teaches the children art skills for a nominal fee. With so many options now available online, you may be able to find courses on YouTube or other places on the internet that are available for free or at a minimal cost. Second language apps, such as Duolingo, aren’t free but can teach your child another language you may not be proficient in. Many museums offer online tours of their collections, and some also offer hands-on workshops designed for children. And, of course, there are always options like Scouts or volunteering, where you and your kids can pick up additional skills and knowledge – and have fun doing so!

Carolyn Richardson, EA, MBA



Carolyn Richardson, EA, MBA
Learning Content Managing Editor


Carolyn has been in the tax field since 1984, when she went to work at the IRS as a Revenue Agent. Carolyn taught many classes at the IRS on both tax law changes and new hire training. In 1990, she left the IRS for a position at CCH, where she was a developer on both the service bureau software and on the Prosystevm fx tax preparation software for nearly 17 years. After leaving CCH she worked at several Los Angeles-based CPA firms before starting at TaxAudit as an Audit Representative in 2009. Carolyn became the manager of the Education and Research Department in 2011, developing course materials for the company and overseeing the research requests. Currently, she is the Learning Content Managing Editor. 


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