Tips on shopping for back-to-school supplies and tax refund

As we prepare for the next academic session, we know that the cost of school supplies can quickly rack up, leaving many families feeling financially stressed.

In case you do not know, Minnesota has both a K-12 education credit and a K-12 education subtraction for school-related expenses. These programs will help to reduce the taxes parents pay and could provide a larger refund when filing state income taxes.

We spoke to Representative Roger Skraba, Republican representing Ely and International Falls area.

“This tax credit program has been around for quite a while. What we did differently this session is that we increased the limits so some folks who may have been making too much money who may not have been able to use the tax credits can now benefit.”

School supplies that qualify for the credit or subtraction include writing utensils, textbooks, musical instrument rentals, tutoring, and computer hardware/educational software.

While the education subtraction is not subject to income limits, the credit is limited to households with incomes less than $76,000 for families with 1 or 2 children, $79,000 for families with 3 children, and for families with 3 or more the household income must be less than $79,000 plus $3,000 for each additional child.  

This benefit is open to Minnesota residents with kids in either private, public or home school. Rep. Skraba also said new state residents can qualify.

“Most eligibility in Minnesota is 30 days. If you just moved here and you bought all school supplies in Minnesota with receipts, all that will be checked is whether you were a resident for the session or not.”

We also spoke to Andrea Jang, the owner of Duluth Mom. She explain other ways parents can save on back-to-school supplies.

  1. Go around your house and gather up what you may have around and kind of take inventory, look at what may still be salvageable. Look at the items and see if any of them are on your current list.
  2. You would be surprised at what you can find at secondhand stores like Savers or Goodwill.
  3. Ask your neighbors and your friends to see if they have anything extra. Maybe they just had a senior that graduated that no longer needs certain things.
  4. Don’t bring your kids to the store when you shop for supplies.
  5. For parents of private school kids, check to see what supplies are already covered in the tuition before buying.