The prices of many services in 2012 have gone up, and dry cleaning is no exception. If you have to wear a uniform and the responsibility of keeping it clean falls on you, you and the Internal Revenue Service may consider this a work expense.. If your uniforms meet IRS requirements, you may have found yourself another tax deduction.
Miscellaneous deductions are deductions that don't really fall directly under any other category. There are two kinds of miscellaneous deductions -- those that fall within the 2 percent limit and those that don't. The 2 percent limit means that the amount you spent on an item that is deductible is the portion of the expense that exceeds 2 percent of your adjustable gross income. If it doesn't exceed your adjustable gross you can't deduct it. To calculate the amount, take 2 percent of your adjustable gross income and subtract it from the total amount you spent on cleaning your uniforms. The difference is what you can deduct, if your expenses meet the other eligibility requirements.
Cleaning your uniforms falls under the "unreimbursed employee expenses" category, according to the IRS. Anything that falls into this category is subject to the 2 percent rule. To qualify under this category, the expense must be made in your tax year; is needed for your trade or to be an employee; and the expenses are both ordinary and necessary. An ordinary expense is one that is a commonly accepted expense in your trade, occupation or business. It's considered necessary if it is both appropriate and helpful for your occupation. It does not have to be required to be necessary. If you meet this requirement you have one more hurdle.
Once you've determined that your uniforms qualify as an unreimbursed expense and you have met the 2 percent requirements, you now have to see if your uniforms themselves qualify for the deduction. You can deduct the cost of cleaning your uniforms if you have to wear them to keep your job and they aren't suitable for everyday wear. In other words, you either can't or won't wear them outside of work. Typically, qualifying uniforms are those worn by delivery workers, hospital workers, firefighters, law enforcement personnel or transportation workers.
If you meet all of the requirements, you are also allowed to deduct protective clothing and gear such as safety shoes, glasses and gloves. Military reservists can deduct the unreimbursed cost of uniforms if the uniforms can only be worn while on duty. The same is true of fatigues. The IRS recommends that if you are taking the deduction for cleaning your uniforms, first deduct anything subject to a higher limit, such as business travel and entertainment expenses, which have a 50 or 80 percent limit, because each deduction lowers your adjustable gross income and thus your threshold for exceeding the 2 percent limit.
Julie Segraves is a freelance writer and photographer. She has written for several community newspapers in Chicago and authors her own blog. Segraves graduated from Loyola University with a Bachelor's in sociology and a minor in criminal justice. She currently works in the IT field as a mainframe operations analyst and disaster recovery specialist.