Can I Deduct My Work Clothes From My Taxes?

Some workers can benefit from clothing-related tax deducations.

Some workers can benefit from clothing-related tax deducations.

Very few people have the luxury of wearing their favorite jeans and sweatshirts to their workplace. If you find that your workplace clothing restrictions are inflating your clothing budget, you may be eager to find a way to bring this budget item back down to size. Depending upon the type of work you do and the clothing restrictions associated with your job, you may be able to deduct all or part of your workplace clothing costs from your taxes. While taking this deduction won’t totally make up for the money you put out to buy your workplace wardrobe, it may make this spending a bit more palatable.

Use the Work Clothing Tax Deduction for Uniforms and Maintenance

You can deduct your clothing costs if the items you must wear to work meet two specific requirements. To deduct these work clothes, your employer must require that you wear specialized clothing to work. This requirement is most commonly due to safety concerns or the result of uniform dress requirements. The clothing must also not be suitable for everyday wear.

Following these restrictions, you can deduct your clothing costs if you work in a nuclear power plant and must wear clothing with special radiation protection, as this requirement is safety-based and you can’t very well wear this clothing out to eat with your sweetie. Similarly, you may deduct showgirl clothing because these revealing outfits are part of the job and not suitable for everyday wear.

If your work clothes qualify, you can also deduct the cost of dry cleaning or other related services. You can add the uniform maintenance tax deduction alongside the work clothing tax deduction on Schedule A in your return.

Don't Deduct Office Wear

If you work in a general office environment, you will likely not be able to reap the benefits of a work clothing deduction. Formal work clothes, such as suits and dresses, cannot be deducted from your taxes, even if you only wear these garments when venturing off to work. Likewise, you cannot deduct your clothing if you work in a trendy boutique and your employer requires that you wear clothing sold in that store because these garments can easily be worn on your next trip to the mall.

Some occupations are more common clothing deductors than others. 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 are often allowed to take dedications for the purchasing of hard hats, steel-toed shoes and other protective wear. Although it may seem counterintuitive, full-time military service members cannot deduct the costs of their uniforms because there are other public uses for them, such as weddings.

Deducting Clothing on Your 2018 Tax Return

Taxes for the 2018 work year, which you file in 2019, will not be eligible for the work clothes tax deduction. Similarly, you should not deduct maintenance for your work clothes on your 2018 tax return.

Deducting Clothing on Your 2017 Tax Return

For 2017, which you file in 2018, and any previous returns, you can deduct the cost of uniforms that fit the IRS qualifications. Regardless of how much you spend on your deductible workplace clothing each year, you can only deduct a set amount of this clothing cost. Your workplace clothing cost deductions cannot exceed 2 percent of your adjusted gross income. Additionally, to take this deduction you must have an itemized receipt proving your clothing-related spending.

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About the Author

Erin Schreiner is a freelance writer and teacher who holds a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University. She has been actively freelancing since 2008. Schreiner previously worked for a London-based freelance firm. Her work appears on eHow, Trails.com and RedEnvelope. She currently teaches writing to middle school students in Ohio and works on her writing craft regularly.

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