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Can you claim work clothing as a business expense?

This question about claiming clothing as a tax-deductible expense has been raised by clients
from time-to-time. Some business expenses are clearly deductible, but with clothing, it is not so
clear.

Where-ever you work there is likely to be some sort of dress code – suits and polished shoes for
the office or overalls and steel-toed boots for the building site or farm. Whether you are a
business owner or an employee, dressing right for the job can be a significant expense. If you’ve
bought these clothes specifically to wear to work, then surely they should be business expenses?
Unfortunately, it’s not that straightforward.

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 you wouldn’t wear outside of work, 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.

What types of clothing can’t be claimed as a business expense?
Anything that you could reasonably wear in your everyday life cannot be claimed as a business
expense, even if you never wear it outside the office or off the work site. This includes clothes
you buy specifically for work, like an expensive suit or smart shoes, or even items like football
boots for your job as a football coach. It is just the possibility that you could wear these more
generic items, even the football boots, outside of work, that precludes them from being a
business expense.

Still not quite sure whether your work clothing qualifies as a business expense?

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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