Can Clothing Costs Be Deducted on Tax Returns?

Just because you take clients to play golf doesn't mean you can deduct the clothes you wear while playing.

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Clothing deductions are one of the most overlooked and most erroneously taken deductions. Overlooked because many who could take the deductions do not and erroneously taken because many who take the deduction should not. While the Internal Revenue Service allows some individuals to deduct a portion of their clothing costs, not understanding the rules for the deductions could land you a personal meeting with an IRS agent.

Conditions of Deduction

To claim a deduction for the clothing you wear you must meet two conditions set by the IRS. The clothing must be a requirement for your job and it must not be appropriate for wearing anywhere but work. For example, your employer makes you wear a suit and tie to the office, which would make the clothing deductible under the first condition. However, since you could wear the suit to the theater or dinner, it does not meet the second condition and therefore is not deductible.

Protective Clothing

Protective clothing such as safety glasses, steel-toed boots and work gloves are deductible even if you do wear them away from your job as long as your employer doesn't reimburse the expense. The IRS might look at the type of job you do before allowing the deduction. A doctor probably cannot get by with claiming a deduction for steel-toed boots, but a pipe fitter, truck driver or even a veterinarian can claim the deduction.

Uniforms

To deduct uniforms from your taxes they must be distinctive enough that you cannot wear them away from work. Firefighters and police officers can deduct their uniform expenses, but a painter cannot deduct his white overalls and cap. Reservists can deduct their personal expenses for clothing, but full-time, active-duty members of the military cannot. The only exception for military personnel is if base rules forbid you to wear the uniform while off duty.

Donations

The IRS allows you to claim a deduction for clothing that you give to a charitable organization such as The Salvation Army. However, you cannot deduct the original purchase price. The Salvation Army provides a list of the acceptable donation amount for any clothing item. For example, depending on the condition of a donated suit, you could deduct up to $60 after giving it away. You must get a receipt showing the organization's name, date and amounts of donation before claiming the deduction.

Deduction Limits

Your miscellaneous deductions, including work clothing, must be more than 2 percent of your income after adjustments before you can claim any of the deduction. For example, if your adjusted gross income is $100,000 and the total of your miscellaneous deductions is $2,750, you will be able to deduct $750. Other miscellaneous expenses include professional dues, legal fees and continuing education classes.

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About the Author

Specializing in business and finance, Lee Nichols began writing in 2002. Nichols holds a Bachelor of Arts in Web and Graphic Design and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Mississippi.

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