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Are working clothes deductible

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Can you write off work clothes?

During the pandemic, pajamas, sweat pants and comfy clothes were the staple work outfits for employees who could work from home and had little reason to dress up. But now that everything has opened up, it’s time to dust off those business clothes. Even if you're self-employed as a freelancer or gig worker, you still need work clothes for your gig or business. Purchasing them comes with a cost, even if they’re used work clothes from a second-hand shop. When you’re self-employed, you’re eligible to take deductions to help lower your tax bill. But what about work clothes? Can you write off work clothes as a business expense? Here we’ll answer this pressing question for everything you need to know about work clothing deductions. Key Takeaways
  • You need to be self-employed to be eligible for the work clothes deduction
  • The clothes have to be something that’s not considered everyday wear and can’t be worn outside the work environment
  • Certain business clothes qualify such as medical scrubs, costumes and safety gear but it depends on your profession

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Who can deduct work clothes?...Read more

Claiming business clothes...Read more

Can real estate agents write off clothing?...Read more

Who can deduct work clothes?

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows certain individuals to write off work clothes as a business expense. You’ll need to be self-employed to qualify, so if you consider yourself a sole proprietor, freelancer or gig worker, you fit this criteria. But not all business clothes are eligible for a deduction. In fact, most clothes don’t even qualify. Only clothing that’s a requirement from your employer and that can’t be worn outside work qualifies as a work clothes deduction.
Who can deduct work clothes?
The IRS considers clothes that are everyday wear as nondeductible. This means your prom dress, wedding gown, Halloween costume or any other special occasion outfit is disqualified from becoming a deduction. If you have to wear overalls for your construction job or a black shirt and pants for the formal restaurant where you work, they don’t qualify. If your employer requires a certain color or style of shirt, pants or shoes, that won’t cut it either. So now we know a lot of work clothing doesn’t qualify for a deduction. But the IRS does make an exception for three types of clothing: work uniforms, costumes and safety gear. Work uniforms You’ve probably been wondering, are work uniforms tax deductible? Yes, they are for self-employed people, even if they are used work clothes. This will change in 2024, when employees will be able to take a uniform for work tax deduction, but not until then, thanks to the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). You’ll need a special uniform if you work as a firefighter for your local fire department, for example. The cost for purchasing, renting, repairing or getting the uniform dry cleaned is tax deductible. Or, if you work as a delivery driver for Instacart, you’ll probably need a special uniform with the company’s logo. Again, the cost of your uniform counts as a write-off. The logo holds great power in whether or not the clothing can be written off as work clothes. Safety gear Some protective gear qualifies as business clothes such as medical scrubs, facemasks, reflective vests, gloves and safety goggles. However, the profession on your tax return needs to match the type of work requiring this sort of safety gear. Someone who likes to do science experiments in their garage can’t deduct their safety goggles or lab coat since they’re being used for leisure purposes. If you work as a bricklayer on a construction site, your hard hat, safety gloves and reflective vest would qualify since your profession matches the required safety equipment. Costumes Musicians and those in the entertainment industry can deduct their costumes and accessories as work clothing as long as they can’t be worn as everyday clothing. But this can be a gray area for many when a CPA or auditor takes a look at a tax return. Some performance clothes and costumes are deemed to be ordinary wear in the eyes of the IRS and are therefore not eligible for a deduction. Makeup and cosmetics Although it’s important to keep up your appearance when working as a professional, you can’t deduct the cost of getting a haircut, a manicure, a pedicure or makeup. This is because the IRS considers these as personal expenses and are not eligible as a write-off. If you use makeup or cosmetics exclusively for work, like if you have your own entertainment or theater gig, then you’re eligible for the deduction. As a self-employed makeup artist, makeup is required for your business and you can write this off as a business expense. Laundry Any tax-deductible clothing is eligible for a dry cleaning deduction. Also, if you’re traveling on a business trip, you’ll need some clean clothes to wear to your client meeting or conference. Luckily, dry cleaning is considered a business expense since having clean clothes is necessary for your work.

Quick tip

Military clothes can technically be worn even when off duty, so they might not be eligible for a tax deduction.

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Claiming business clothes

When claiming work clothing, you’ll need to include the costs as itemized deductions on your tax return. Itemized deductions are subtracted from your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI), and they lower your tax bill.
Claiming business clothes

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Can real estate agents write off clothing?

If you work as a real estate agent or broker, you might be able to deduct the cost of your business clothes if they have a company logo. A regular business suit or dress would not count as a write-off since you can wear the outfit outside your real estate work environment. If your clothes do qualify for a deduction, you can also write off any dry cleaning expenses, too.

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