California Considers Exempting Teachers from State Income Tax

Apr 10, 2017 at 12:00am ET By Alyssa Walker

To fight the state’s growing teacher shortage, California legislators recently introduced a bill to exempt teachers from the state income tax.  The idea?  To encourage people to join the profession and to keep the teachers they already have. 

According to the California Teacher Association, nearly one-third of teachers leave the profession within the first five years.  The bill is meant to offer a remedy. 

Senate Bill 807, if approved, would require teachers to stay with the job for five years before qualifying for an exemption. 

It would also offer a tax deduction for the cost of earning a teaching credential.  This includes the costs of university tuition and certification exams. 

In a press release, California Senator Cathleen Galgani, who jointly introduced the bill with Senator Henry Stern said, “Teachers are the original job creators. The teaching profession is critical to California’s economic success and impacts every vocation and profession in the state,” said Senator Stern. “SB 807 addresses the immediate teacher shortage and sends a loud and clear message across the state and nation:  California values teachers. We will help train you and we want you to stay in the classroom.” 

She added, “With SB 807, California stands apart from all the other states by addressing the shortage and investing in teachers to stay in the classroom and help all our students succeed.”

The bill has wide support in both parties, but also some pushback.  Those who oppose the bill warn that exempting certain people from taxes because of their profession could set a dangerous precedent. It’s also unclear how much revenue the state would lose from income taxes if the bill becomes law.

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Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.

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