According to the Centers for Disease Control, 2,000 eye injuries occur every day on the job in the U.S. as a result of flying particles of cement, drywall, wood, metal and dust commonly found on construction jobs. In addition to flying debris, some workers can be exposed to splashes of toxic chemicals. Wearing safety glasses on the job to avoid damaging or losing eyesight is so important that the Internal Revenue Service allows workers to deduct this type of purchase as long as they are required to wear them by management.
Types of Safety Glasses
Savvy tradesmen protect their eyes from cuts, burns and chemicals by choosing specific styles and lens grades unique to the tasks they perform. Large, thick, hard lenses with snug side wraps cover the most amount of eye and surrounding area for workers who saw, hammer, drill and demolish, while craftsmen involved in industries like gas or arc welding need different protection that is graded by high lens shade number 4 or higher. There are also specific grades of safety glasses made just for UV radiation, sun and chemicals, and every type of safety glasses fall under the IRS definition of personal protective equipment.
Given the unique nature of safety glasses, most brands are required to adhere to American National Standards Institute standards and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration should approve them. Safety glasses can cost hundreds of dollars, a major reason unreimbursed tradesmen are eager to write them off at year’s end. You stand the best chance of having your tax write-off approved by purchasing only OSHA- and ANSI-approved products, unless your employer specifically requires you to buy and wear a non-approved brand.
Taking the Tax Deduction
Your safety glasses fall under the IRS Code governing miscellaneous work deductions and are classified as uniforms and gear. Protective work clothing, shoes, hats, gloves and eye wear required for safety are lumped together, and all are allowable deductions as long as your employer requires you to wear them. This is important to remember. If you are not told by your boss that you must wear safety glasses but you buy them anyway and try to write them off, the IRS has a legal right to refuse the deduction.
It is always a good idea to keep the receipts you are given when you buy personal protective gear, just in case the IRS calls your tax return into question. To avoid having to go back to your employee handbook or work policy for proof that your boss requires you to buy your safety glasses, take a photocopy of the page in question and attach the information to the receipt(s) so you are ready to show proof of your write-off in the event you are audited.
- Eye Doctor Guide.com: Safety Glasses -- The What, Where, Why and When of Eye Protection
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Workplace Safety & Health Topics: Eye Safety
- TurboTax: Tax Deduction Wisdom -- Should You Itemize? Miscellaneous Tax Deductions
- James Maertin, C.P.A.: Deductions: Uniforms and Gear
- Internal Revenue Service: Publication 529 (2011): Miscellaneous Deductions -- Work Clothes and Uniforms
Based in Chicago, Gail Cohen has been a professional writer for more than 30 years. She has authored and co-authored 14 books and penned hundreds of articles in consumer and trade publications, including the Illinois-based "Daily Herald" newspaper. Her newest book, "The Christmas Quilt," was published in December 2011.