Can you claim clothing as a business expense?

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We often get questions about what business expenses are tax deductible, and one of the more confusing topics is clothing. 

Most jobs have some sort of dress code – whether you wear suits and heels or overalls and steel-capped boots. Work clothes can be a significant expense for any business owner or employee. You only buy these clothes for your job, so it feels as though they should be business expenses, right? Well, not quite. 

What types of clothing can you claim as a business expense? 

You can only claim clothing as a business expense if it’s specialist gear that isn’t suitable for private use, such as: 

  • Uniforms 
  • Protective clothing like overalls, goggles or steel toecap boots 
  • Safety clothing such as high-vis vests 
  • Distinctive work clothing that you wouldn’t wear anywhere else (for example, if you were a professional clown, then your clown suit would qualify as “distinctive work clothing” and thus be tax deductible ?! 

What is defined as a Uniform? 

A uniform is an item of clothing that can be identified with the employer: 

  • Through the permanent and prominent display of a name, logo or other identification the employer regularly uses – such as printed or embroidered; and 
  • Is not clothing employees would normally wear for private purposes 

What types of clothing can’t be claimed as a business expense? 

Just because you don’t wear an item of clothing except outside work doesn’t mean you can claim it as a business expense. 

Anything that you could reasonably wear in your everyday life cannot be claimed as a business expense. That includes clothes you buy specifically for work, like an expensive suit, that you wouldn’t otherwise have purchased. That even applies to items like football boots for your job as a football coach. 

Not sure whether your work clothing qualifies? 

Give us a call or drop us an email – we can answer your questions about what’s claimable against your business.  

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