Schoolteachers who pay out of their own pockets for student supplies deserve restoration of a long-standing federal tax deduction that faces an uncertain future in Washington, proponents said Wednesday.

The $250 annual deduction, available to individual teachers, is part of an $85.3 billion "tax extenders" measure now weaving its way through Congress. The bill includes 55 tax breaks for a variety of beneficiaries, from biofuel producers to multi-company pension plans.

Those provisions expired in 2013 when federal lawmakers did not extend them. Supporters now say the breaks could be lost forever unless a lame-duck Congress restores them by the end of the year.

"Every one of us remembers a teacher who went the extra mile to inspire us, who graded papers and lab reports long into the night, often dipping into their own wallets and pocketbooks to pay for supplies and field trips," said Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who held a news conference to urge passage.

Schumer is a member of the Senate Finance Committee, which endorsed the tax measure in the spring. The legislation has bipartisan support, but some Republicans want to drop specific provisions, such as credits for renewable energy production.

The House Ways and Means Committee did not respond to Newsday's request for comment Wednesday. The committee, which is dominated by Republicans, is the House of Representatives' counterpart of the Senate Finance Committee. The Senate committee, now controlled by Democrats, will have new leadership when the GOP majority takes over that chamber in January.

National unions estimate that the average teacher pays between $400 and $500 annually out-of-pocket for student supplies and other classroom equipment. Schumer's office estimated that the $250 tax deduction, if restored, could be worth as much as $9.3 million for the 37,200 teachers in Nassau and Suffolk counties.

The deduction first took effect in 2002. In the years following, teachers could deduct the $250 directly from their pretax income while also taking a federally allowed standard deduction. The Senate Finance Committee measure would allow the same deductions both for 2014 and for any expenses incurred in 2015.

On the Island, teacher representatives said out-of-pocket expenditures are likely to increase, as districts with tighter budgets eliminate allowances given teachers in past years for purchases of classroom supplies.

"It's not only school supplies," said Tony Felicio Jr., president of the Connetquot Teachers Association, a union local.

"Teachers are often buying winter caps, coats, gloves for kids who don't have them, especially in the lower socioeconomic districts."

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