Lessons from the Tax Court: deducting work-clothing costs — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

Lessons from the Tax Court: deducting work-clothing costs

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Normally, you can’t deduct amounts spent on clothes you wear to work. So, if you buy a smart new suit or outfit for the office or an important business meeting, you reap no tax benefit from the outlay. Reason: The clothes are suitable for everyday wear, as well as business wear.

You may be able to deduct the cost of clothing or uniforms that are required as a condition of employment or are needed for safety purposes. But be prepared to prove that the clothing can’t usually be worn outside the job, as evidenced in the following Tax Court case:

A welder tried to deduct the cost of his boots, clothes and gloves. He didn’t provide any convincing evidence, however, that those items were unsuitable for general or personal wear. In fact, the welder admitted to the Tax Court judge that he was wearing the boots in court. (Nicely, TC Memo 2006-172)

Not surprisingly, the court denied the deduction.

The bottom line: If you qualify for a deduction, you must claim the cost of special clothing as a miscellaneous expense on your personal return, subject to the usual limits.

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