Can You Take the Clothing Tax Deduction?
By Evlyn Carlile & Shelly Cedarblade
I have heard several times this year, “Everyone I know is taking the tax deduction for clothing.” Just because everyone you know is using work clothes as a deduction doesn’t mean it is legal! The IRS does allow a deduction for the cost and maintenance of work clothing; however, there are conditions that apply to this deduction.
You can take the clothing tax deduction if the items you must wear to work meet two specific requirements:
- Your employer requires that you wear specialized clothing to work. This requirement is most commonly due to safety issues.
- The clothing must not be suitable for everyday wear.
Common Clothing Deduction Occupations
- Those who work in a job that requires a uniform, such as police officers, nurses or bus drivers, can commonly deduct these uniform costs.
- Additionally, workers in the construction field are often allowed to take deductions for the purchasing of hard hats, steel-toed shoes and other protective wear.
It is not enough that you wear clothing that is appropriate for your profession, even if it is not your normal attire. The clothing must be specifically required by your employer. Even if you do not wear your work clothes away from work, you cannot take the clothing deduction. The clothing must not be suitable for taking the place of your regular clothing.
In respect to sole proprietors, the rules are the same. Only clothing that is purchased and worn for safety reasons can be considered a clothing tax deduction.
One of the best examples I know is the regarding military attire. Personnel are required to wear fatigues, but they are not restricted from wearing them off base. This differs from their dress uniform. Military personnel have restrictions on where and when they can wear their dress uniform. In this example, fatigues cannot be considered as a justifiable clothing tax deduction, but the dress uniform is.
How about a white cap, white shirt or white jacket, white bib overalls, and standard work shoes a painter wears on the job? Nope, it is not distinctive. However, required protective clothing like safety boots, safety glasses, hard hats, and work gloves are considered a legitimate clothing tax deduction.