Insights – FAQ – Can I claim a deduction for my work clothing?

25th April 2024

Posted in: Insights

We are commonly asked by our clients what work related expenses they may be eligible to claim, in particular can they claim for the clothing that they wear for work.

In this article Steve Payne breaks down the facts to work out what the ATO says is OK and what is not.


The ATO allows taxpayers to claim a deduction for the cost of buying, repairing and cleaning occupation-specific clothing, protective clothing or uniforms that are unique or distinctive.

To claim a deduction, it is generally expected that you will be able to provide evidence that you purchased the clothing concerned and have records or evidence of cleaning costs.


Occupation-specific clothing

You can claim for clothing that is specific to your occupation and not something you would be able to wear every day.  Generally, this sort of clothing also allows the public to easily recognise what you do — such as the checked pants a chef wears or medical scrubs.

However, no deduction is available for conventional clothing, even if it is purchased specifically for work, they are only worn at work, or your employer requires you to wear certain clothing items.

For example, black trousers and white shirt generally preferred by waiters or bartenders, an office worker’s suit, or drill shorts / shirts for tradespeople, are generally unavailable as a deduction.


Protective clothing

You can claim for clothing and footwear that you wear to protect yourself from a real and likely risk of injury that may arise from your job in the particular environment for which you are required to carry out these activities.

To be considered “protective”, the items must provide a sufficient degree of protection against that risk.   Protective clothing includes:

  • fire-resistant clothing
  • sun-protection clothing with UPF rating for those working outdoors
  • high visibility vests or shirts
  • non slip nurse’s shoes
  • protective boots such as steel capped or rubber boots for concreters
  • overalls and aprons you wear to avoid damage to your ordinary clothes

Ordinary clothes (such as jeans, drill shirts, work shorts, trousers, socks, closed shoes) are not regarded as protective clothing if they dont provide an specific protective qualities.


Work uniforms

Generally, you can make a claim for a uniform (either compulsory or non-compulsory) that is unique and distinctive to your employers organisation.

Clothing is unique if it has been designed and made specifically for an employer and is considered distinctive if it has the employer’s logo permanently attached and items are not available to be purchased by the public.

Compulsory work uniform

Compulsory work wear is a uniform that identifies you as an employee of an organisation with a strictly enforced policy that makes it compulsory for you to wear the uniform while at work.

In limited circumstances, you may also be able to claim a deduction for shoes, socks and stockings where they are an essential part of a distinctive compulsory uniform and where their characteristics (colour, style and type) are specified in your employer’s uniform policy.

Non-compulsory work uniform

You can’t claim expenses incurred for non-compulsory work uniforms unless your employer has registered the design with AusIndustry. Shoes, socks and stockings don’t form part of a non-compulsory work uniform.


Laundering of work clothing

You can claim the costs of washing, drying and ironing work clothes, or having them dry-cleaned if they meet the requirements mentioned above. It will be expected however for you to have written evidence, such as diary entries and receipts, for your laundry expenses if:

  • the amount of your claim is greater than $150, and
  • your total claim for work-related expenses is over $300.

If the amount seeking to be claimed is less than the above, and you don’t need to provide written evidence for your laundry expenses, you just need to have used a reasonable basis to work out your claim.

For washing, drying and ironing you do yourself, the ATO considers that a reasonable basis for working out your laundry claim is:

  • $1 per load (this includes washing, drying and ironing) if the load is made up only of work clothing, and
  • 50 cents per load if other laundry items are included.

Similarly, you can claim the cost of dry-cleaning work-related clothing which falls into one of the above categories.


How Can Alto Help?

If in doubt about the deductibility of your work clothing or other work related expenses, please do not hesitate to contact the Alto Team


Author: Steve Payne