Part 2 Tax Deduction Series – Work Related Clothing Expenses

As mentioned in our blog post on the 29th May 2017, this week we continue our multi part series on Tax Deductions for individuals. In today’s issue, we focus on work related clothing expenses.

Depending on your industry, you may be able to claim a deduction for the cost of buying and cleaning either occupation specific clothing, protective clothing and unique and distinct uniforms. We will cover some specific industries in more detail later in our article however we will start with the following; protective clothing, work related uniforms and finally occupation specific uniforms.

Protective Clothing

You can claim a deduction for clothing and footwear that you wear to protect yourself from the risk of illness or injury posed by your occupation or the environment in which you work. To be considered protective, the items must provide a sufficient degree of protection against the potential risk.

Some items which would be considered protective clothing are as follows:

  • Fire and sun resistant clothing
  • Safety coloured high visibility vests or clothing
  • Non-slip protective footwear such as ones worn by nurses or fast food employees
  • Rubber boots such as the ones used by concreters
  • Steel capped boots
  • Protective gloves, overalls and heavy duty shirts and trousers
  • Overalls, smocks, scrubs or aprons worn to avoid damage to ordinary clothing

Ordinary clothing (such as jeans, shirts, socks, etc) are not regarded as protective clothing if they lack protective qualities designed for the risks of your work. In addition, you are unable to claim the cost of purchasing or cleaning ordinary clothes you wear to work.

Work Uniforms

You can claim a deduction for a uniform, either compulsory or non-compulsory, that is unique and distinctive to the organisation you work for. Clothing is unique if it has been designed and made only for the employer and is considered distinctive if it has the employer’s logo permanently attached and the clothing is not available to the public.

Compulsory Work Uniform

This is a set of clothing 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 you are at work.

You may 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 are specified in your employer’s uniform policy. This would include employees such as flight attendants.

Non-compulsory Work Uniform

You will only be able to claim expenses incurred for non-compulsory uniforms where your employer has registered the design with AusIndustry.

Occupation Specific Uniforms

In addition to the above, depending on the industry in which you work, you may be entitled to additional deductions for work related clothing expenses. Below are some additional expenses that may be applicable to the industry in which you are employed in.

Adult Industry Workers

You can only claim a deduction for the cost of clothing you use solely for earning income, including costumes and lingerie.

You can’t claim a deduction for items such as dresses, skirts, blouses, trousers, shirts and shoes for everyday use.

Australian Defense Force Personnel

Military service uniforms are compulsory uniforms, so you can claim a deduction for items such as:

  • military white, blue or khaki shirts with rank or other embellishments
  • standard matching trousers
  • regulation jumpers and jackets
  • official mess uniform
  • hats or caps with rank or other embellishments
  • service dress shoes
  • service handbags and clutch bags
  • socks and stockings
  • camouflage shirts and trousers.

You may be able to claim shoes, socks and stockings where these items are an integral part of a compulsory and distinctive uniform, however, these items must be included the Defence Force uniform policy or guidelines. The policy or guidelines must stipulate the characteristics of the shoes, socks and stockings that qualify them as being distinctive and part of the compulsory uniform.

Business Professionals

You are unable to make a claim for ordinary business attire even though it may be part of your employment contract to wear. If your employer has a corporate uniform that is registered with AusIndustry and you purchase the attire from your employer you may be able to claim a deduction for the cost of this clothing.

Fitness and Sporting Industry Employees

You cannot claim a deduction for the cost of conventional clothing, nor can you claim a deduction for general exercise clothing which is part of ‘conventional clothing’. This includes track suits, shorts, tank tops, running shoes, sweat socks, arm bands, head bands, t-shirts and other such items.

You can claim the cost of clothing that forms part of a compulsory uniform and is required to be worn while on duty.

Other Industries

Whilst we have only covered a few industries above, please note on the ATO website there is a full list of industries and the relevant items which may be available to each specific industry. The link should you require any additional information is: Alternatively, if you have any queries regarding your own industry, feel free to contact our office as we are always happy to discuss.

Laundry and Dry Cleaning

As most people are aware, if you have a work related uniform that you are required to wear you can make a claim for the cost of cleaning that uniform. You can claim the costs of washing, drying and ironing eligible work clothes, or having them dry-cleaned.


To be entitled to claim a deduction for the costs incurred for laundry, you must have written evidence, such as diary entries and receipts, for your laundry expenses if both:

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

If you don’t need to provide written evidence for your laundry expenses, you may use a reasonable basis to work out your claim. For washing, drying and ironing you do yourself, we consider that a reasonable basis for working out your laundry claim is:

  • $1 per load – this includes washing, drying and ironing if you was your work related clothing separately or
  • 50 cents per load if other laundry items are included.

Dry Cleaning Expenses

You can claim the cost of dry-cleaning work-related clothing. If your total claim for work-related expenses exceeds $300 you will need to provide written evidence to substantiate your claim.

We hope the above has assisted you in some way in understanding what you may be entitled to claim when it comes time to preparing your income tax return. If you would like any further information on the above or wish to discuss with our office in more detail, please feel free to contact us.

In our next issue, we will address self-education expenses and when you may or may not be entitled to claim a deduction for courses of study undertaken.

ChalkBoard Consultancy Co.


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