What kinds of clothes are tax deductible?

When I started working in a professional environment I had to bite the fashion bullet and invest in some really nice clothes. It's when you cross that bridge from your college days of jeans and t-shirts over to clothes that make you look like an actual grown up. At the time I thought, "Oh well, at least I'll get to write the clothes off on my taxes"…but alas, I was wrong.


The IRS says that to claim a tax deduction for buying clothes, they have to be mandatory for your job and unsuitable for everyday wear. In my mind I thought my clothes would be tax deductible because really, where would I wear a pencil skirt and blazer to besides work? Nowhere, that's where (my husband will attest to the fact that the minute I get home from work, the very first thing I do is change out of my work clothes). But according to the IRS's rules, technically I could wear them somewhere else, hence they cannot be written off.


Let's say a man has to wear a three piece suit to work every single day. That means he would more than likely need more than one suit, right? But not every man owns more than one suit (even though, as you'll see in the video below, Tony Costanzo of Costanzo Clothing thinks every man should own more than one suit…). Wouldn't it make sense that, say, the first purchase of a suit couldn't be written off, but any more than that one could be?


The lesser know Fashion Police – The IRS

Isn't "unsuitable" a subjective thing? Who exactly at the IRS will deem exactly what "unsuitable" is? You can't deduct overalls, but what if someone wouldn't be caught dead in overalls outside of work? On the other hand, your Mailman could write off his shirt, but what if someone thought mail shirts were super Hipster and bought it to wear to a wedding?

John Koskinen would definitely be the 'Joan Rivers' of the show.


I also question the fairness of the IRS's rules. Some things that can be deducted:

  • Theatrical Costumes
  • Safety gear such as hard hats
  • Professional athletes (good thing, I've heard most pro's are pretty hard up for cash)
  • Delivery workers
  • Firefighter and LEO
  • Health care workers
  • Letter carriers


BUT – the IRS says that military uniforms can technically be used off duty and aren't a guaranteed deduction. So the men and women fighting to protect our country (and not pulling in a salary anywhere that is close to a professional athlete) can't deduct their uniforms.


Claiming deductions

The IRS will contest something if they don't agree with you. There was a case of a pilot writing off his shoes for work purposes. The IRS disagreed with him and countered his claim that the shoes could not be worn anywhere else but at work. The pilot was able to present written proof that his employer required him to wear shoes that weren’t suitable for everyday use when the IRS questioned his deduction. He was actually able to deduct not only the cost of the shoes, but also the expense of keeping them polished!


If you do decide to claim some of your clothes as a tax deduction, be sure to cross your t's and dot your i's. Also, if available, have a copy of your employer's dress requirements in writing. If you need assistance with your tax prep or a tax debt, contact us for help. Call 888-727-8796 or email info@irsmedic.com to schedule a free consultation.


Those shoes!!!


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