When are Clothes Tax Deductible? Rarely…..

I get that question often during tax season.  After all, we do spend a lot of money on our appearance, and that includes an expensive wardrobe. Unfortunately,  little if any of those purchases are tax deductible.  Here is a quick blurb from Tax Court rulings… The Taxpayer was employed as a television news anchor in Ohio. She was required to maintain a professional appearance as described in the station’s Women’s Wardrobe Guidelines , and incurred considerable expenses in doing so.  Her purchases included business suits, lounge wear, robe, sportswear, lingerie, bikini, evening wear, Ohio State jersey, jewelry, running and walking shoes, and dry cleaning costs.  She even deducted salon visits.

According to the Tax Court, the test for determining whether the cost of clothing is deductible is whether it is (1) required or essential in taxpayer’s employment, (2) unsuitable for general or personal wear, and (3) in fact not so worn. In siding with the IRS, the Tax Court noted that her clothing was not outrageous or unsuitable for everyday personal wear, even if it was not so worn outside of the workplace. Anietra Hamper , TC Summ. Op. 2011-17 (Tax Ct.).  The appropriate test is not if the clothing is worn outside of your regular work, but can it be used or adapted for everyday wear.

Even though you may spend thousands of dollars every year maintaining an upscale wardrobe of designer clothing, shoes and pretty little things because your clients expect it,  these items are perfectly suitable for everyday personal wear.   However, if you have a request for a pretty little French Maid’s outfit, or to don a tutu,  ballet shoes and stage makeup a la “Black Swan”, then you have a good case for a deductible business expense as those items are certainly not suitable for everyday wear.