One of the most common questions I receive is,
“Is my work clothing deductible? I have to dress up for my job.”
The short answer is NO! When you go to work, you can’t go naked, you have to be wearing clothes so they are not a deduction for income tax purposes. Even if you have to dress up in business professional dress, it is still not deductible.
However, uniforms and work clothes can be deductible in certain circumstances.
- If you have to wear protective clothing so that you or your regular clothes do not get dirty or damaged, then the protective clothing is a deduction. For example, a mechanic wears coveralls, a lab technician wears a lab coat or a race car driver wears protective clothing. These are all examples of protective clothing that must be warn to protect the individual from ruining his regular clothing.
If you wear a uniform or a piece of clothing with your employer’s name and/or logo on it, it is deductible. A waitress, a delivery driver or a repair person who wears a specific uniform while working would be able to deduct that cost.
- If you wear work clothes that are not protective or are not uniforms, it is unlikely that they are deductible. However, if they meet ALL three of these requirements, you are permitted a deduction:
- must be required as a condition of employment and
- must NOT be adaptable to everyday usage and
- must NOT be worn for personal use
For example, the IRS has denied musicians who wore flashy clothes on stage, a restaurant host who had to wear a tuxedo to work, a waiter who had to dress in “all black” and a public speaker who had to dress up in a business suit when giving a speech. They all claimed that they had to wear these clothes for work but in each case the IRS said that the clothing could also be worn for personal use, so the deduction was denied.