AD Bookkeeping client shopping after learning to write off clothing

As you’re ramping up your small business, you may be ramping up your personal style as well – perhaps choosing nicer clothes or at least things that more perfectly fit the image you’re trying to cultivate. And, of course, the right clothes can be expensive. It’s natural to wonder: Can you write off clothes for work? And how much can I claim for laundry expenses and dry cleaning?

You may think that your clothes are part of your business – you would never have bought those kinds of clothes otherwise – and therefore should be tax-deductible. In most cases, however, they aren’t. There is more to the story, however.

Can I Write Off New Clothes For Work?

In general, the answer is no, you can’t write off new clothes that you buy for work, even if you wouldn’t have bought them otherwise. But in very specific circumstances, work clothing is tax-deductible. To meet the requirement to claim clothing in the “other expense” category on your self-employment Schedule C it must be:

  • Something you’re required to wear as a condition of employment (like a uniform or other clothing with the company logo)
  • Something that is not suitable for use as everyday clothing.

That means a real estate agent can’t write off designer suits which may be expected as part of their business but are not distinctive clothing that cannot be used as everyday clothing. Note that clothing must be both distinctive and something you’re required to wear to qualify, so a company logo shirt that you have purchased cannot be written off unless you are required to wear it while or as part of doing your job.

You can’t even claim that clothing is deductible if you say you don’t wear it away from work. Part of the stringent distinctiveness test requires that the clothing is not suitable for wearing as regular clothing. You can walk down the street in a designer suit, so it isn’t deductible, even if that suit isn’t your usual style or is something that you don’t normally wear.

If you’re a medical worker, you can usually deduct scrubs from your taxes because they are distinctive clothing that identifies you as part of the medical profession and is required at your job – even though everyone has seen people walking down the street in scrubs, just as you have seen people in company uniforms wearing them when not in their workplace.

Additionally, you can usually deduct protective clothing from your taxes, including safety glasses, hard hats and work gloves. Your return, however, would need to show your profession as one that requires that type of clothing.

That’s What Bookkeepers Are For

Are you clear now on whether or not you can write off clothes for work? Confusing, isn’t it? What about the other question: How much can I claim for laundry expenses and dry cleaning? You can deduct costs associated with washing or dry cleaning items of clothing that qualify as deductible, but not other items. You may be able to deduct a small amount that represents a portion of each load of laundry you do at home or at a laundromat that includes deductible items, but you should speak with a professional for more information.

In fact, if you’re not sure about any aspect of your personal or small business deductions, the right professional can help. In the case of income, expenses and taxes related to a small business, a bookkeeper is the right professional to contact. AD Bookkeeping Services offers bookkeeping San Diego businesses can trust. Learn more by reaching out. It’s the right thing to do for bookkeeping services and personal attention from an experienced professional who’s on your side.