Daily Deduction: Work Uniforms


Let’s face it: Some of us have to wear less than stylish clothing to work. As a tax professional, your Daily Deduction correspondent knows that a beat-up cardigan with elbow patches is de rigueur at the office. And if you’re a doctor, a delivery man, or a firefighter, your at-work attire may be even stranger.

Never fear. The IRS likes men and women in uniform. If you can’t wear your work clothes as your everyday clothes, you may be able to deduct their cost.

You can deduct the cost of your work clothes if your employer requires you to wear them and they aren’t suitable for everyday wear.  According to the IRS, it is not enough to say that your clothes are strange looking; they must be required by your boss.  Furthermore, if you don’t wear your work clothes at home but you could if you wanted to, they’re not deductible.  This means that lawyers and accountants cannot deduct their suits, but the UPS (Stock Quote: UPS) man can deduct his.  Other folks who may qualify for the deduction include law enforcement officers, health care workers, mail carriers, transportation employees and professional athletes.  

If you are one of those lucky people, don’t stop at the cost of your clothing. Deduct the cost of its upkeep, too.  If your uniform is dry-clean only, save your receipts.  And if you have to get that uniform altered, deduct the cost.  Finally, don’t forget to claim the price that you pay for protective gear.  Safety glasses, steel-toed boots, hard hats and work gloves are all deductible.

Of course, if your employer has reimbursed you for the cost of your unfashionable attire, you can’t take the deduction.  But if you paid for that chicken suit on your own, don’t forget to take the work clothing deduction.  It will help you keep more cash in your uniform pocket.

Be sure to check out the complete archive of Daily Deductions.

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