How to Claim a Tax Deduction for Uniform Expenses


Did you know that you can deduct the cost of uniforms and work clothes specifically required to be worn at your workplace, as well as the upkeep of such clothing. The IRS requires that the clothing must be a condition of your employment and not be suitable for everyday wear. Uniform related expenses are viewed as tax deductible by the ATO and if you have not claiming these expenses, you may be missing out on paying less tax or receiving a greater refund.


Some professions that may qualify for the deduction include health care workers, firefighters, transportation workers, law enforcement officers among others. Safety gear required to be worn when carrying out certain jobs are also deductible, including hard hats, safety shoes, work gloves, and safety glasses. This applies particularly to professions like carpenters, electricians, chemical workers, machinists, pipe fitters, construction workers, commercial fishing crew members, and any other job that needs safety clothing to be worn.


How to Claim a Tax Deduction for Uniform Expenses


To avoid missing out on a tax deductible entitlement, find out whether the clothing you wear to work is deemed eligible by the IRS which includes:


–           Any type of protective clothing

–           Any clothing with branding or signage which is occupation specific


Clothing such as plain pants and shirts that some employers require their employees to wear and business suits that are compulsory wear for your profession cannot be claimed as a deduction. If it is not a specific uniform with a company branding or a logo, or if it is not protective clothing it is not deductible.


Which Expenses can be Claimed?


You are able to claim for the purchase, dry-cleaning, laundry, repair, replacement, and renting of all items deemed to be part of your uniform. Examples may include:


–           Daily washing of uniform items such as shirts, pants, skirts, scarves, ties, shoes, etc.

–           Dry cleaning of uniforms unfit for washing.

–           Purchasing protective clothing and items to prevent injury.

–           Renting protective items such as a Fluro vest for construction work.


How to Claim


To claim for uniform expenses it is important to keep receipts for all purchases and a written record to account for every dollar spent. Without written proof you will not be able to justify your expenses to the ATO. Whenever you purchase anything from a uniform supplier, request a tax invoice, and when you have your clothing dry cleaned, get a receipt. Reasonable expenses for laundry detergents can also be claimed for washing and cleaning your work clothing at home, as well as the cost of electricity for using the washing machine and dryer specifically for your uniform . Up to $150 worth of expenses can be claimed without written evidence, however, in order to maximize your deductions it is best to keep records of every expense related to uniform wear. A ‘fair estimate of costs’ system, recommended by the ATO, can be used to help judge the approximate expense of usage. For example, an expense of $1.00 per load of normal daily washing for work clothing is estimated as a fair estimate by the ATO. Here is a good a tax refund calculator.


There is no limit to the expenses you can claim for work clothing, however, without written proof in the form of legitimate receipts you won’t be able to claim a refund or qualify for a deduction. When submitting a claim for uniform expenses it is important to accurately state which category your particular work clothes fall into. The ATO refers to four categories when considering a claim for uniform expenses:


  1. Protective clothing
  2. Compulsory work uniforms
  3. Non-compulsory work uniforms (e.g. registered industry-related work uniforms)
  4. Occupation-Specific work clothing (e.g. a chef’s hat)


Deducting expenses for work clothing is a great way to reduce your tax. By accurately submitting deductible uniform and work clothing expenses you can easily lower your taxable income and in some instances claim a higher tax refund. This is particularly beneficial for individuals who do part-time work or are in casual employment. Workers who enter the job market for the first time often overlook this type of deduction and therefore miss out on cashing in on all the deductions they are entitled to. If you have family members or working children make sure that they are taking these expenses into account when submitting their tax returns.


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