Some of us have to wear a suit and tie to work, some of us have to wear a branded uniform or need to sport the clothes from the shop we work in. No matter your clothing case, you’ll need to find out your employer’s dress code policy so you can confirm if and how to claim clothes come tax time. To help you make the most of your work related clothing deductions, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide outlining what you can and can’t claim.

What work related clothing expenses can I claim?

When it comes to what you wear to work, there are some clothes-related deductions you can claim – the cost of buying and cleaning occupation-specific clothing such as:

  • protective and unique clothing (i.e. not everyday wear)
  • clothing that easily identifies your occupation, like checked chef trousers
  • distinctive uniforms
  • clothing and footwear that you wear to protect yourself from the risk of illness or injury posed by your job or the environment in which you do your job. To be considered protective, the items must provide a sufficient degree of protection against that risk, and might include:
    • fire-resistant and sun-protection clothing (including sunglasses)
    • hi-vis vests
    • non-slip nurse's shoes
    • rubber boots for concreters
    • steel-capped boots, gloves, overalls, and heavy-duty shirts and trousers
    • overalls, smocks and aprons you wear to avoid damage or soiling to your ordinary clothes whilst at work.

Clothing deductions for nurses

It’s possible to claim a deduction for the cost of clothing that’s specific to your work as a nurse. Some of the nurse specific deductions you can claim include:

  • registration fees and memberships
  • uniforms, laundry and non-slip shoes
  • conferences and self-education
  • tools of your trade, including stethoscopes and other medical equipment, reference books, and nursing fobs
  • mobiles or pagers if you’re on call.

You can also claim the costs of renewing your annual practising certificate as well as attending seminars, conferences and training courses that are work-related. Add to this list the costs of journals, periodicals and magazines that have nursing specific content.

If your uniform is deemed compulsory, you might be able to claim for non-slip shoes, socks, stockings or a single item like a tie if they’re an essential part of your work gear. Then there’s occupation-specific clothing; garments that aren’t every day in nature but would allow the public to easily recognise you as a nurse. Claim for the cost of laundering and dry-cleaning your eligible work clothes such as your required uniform.

More about tax returns for nurses.

Clothing deductions for drivers

If driving’s what you do, bear in mind – you can’t claim the cost of clothing that’s ordinary or conventional, even where the clothes are purchased specifically for work. The good news is, you can claim the cost of a compulsory enforced uniform which identifies you as an employee of an organisation including shirts, pants, skirts, jackets and jumpers.

Driver specific expenses we can offset from your tax include:

  • CB radios
  • Fridges
  • Sleeping bags
  • Tools for truck repair
  • Working dogs – depreciation deduction for livestock carriers and immediate deduction for their maintenance costs
  • Sunglasses and other sun protection items (including sunscreen, hats and sun-protection shirts)
  • Protective equipment not supplied by your employer (including overalls, gloves, goggles, masks, steel-capped boots, high-vis vests and winter jackets)
  • Stationery, diary, log books, work bag or briefcases

More about tax returns for drivers.

What clothing deductions are not claimable?

For office workers, this isn’t great news – you can't claim the cost of purchasing or cleaning your work clothes that aren’t specific to your occupation. This includes bartender's black trousers, a white shirt or a business suit. If you work in clothing retail, you can’t claim for the clothing you purchased in that store, even if you’re required to wear it to work. The rationale is – those items aren’t specific to your occupation as you could also wear them outside work.

Regular items such as jeans, shirts, shorts, trousers, socks and closed shoes aren’t considered protective clothing if they lack the protective qualities designed for the risks of your work. For example – with closed shoes, you could make the point that they offer protection for your feet from workplace hazards. But, unless that protection goes over-and-above a general level of foot protection, you won’t be able to claim a deduction.

Claiming the cost of work uniforms

Compulsory work uniform

A uniform identifies you as an employee of an organisation. The uniform must be compulsory to wear while you're at work with a strictly enforced policy ensuring its enforcement. If this is the circumstance surrounding your uniform, the cost is deductible.

Where your shoes, socks and stockings are an essential part of a distinctive compulsory uniform, you may be able to claim a deduction. Their colour, style and type must be specified in your employer's uniform policy as is sometimes the case with air stewardesses and nurses. It might be possible to claim for a single item of distinctive clothing, such as a jumper if it's compulsory to wear to work.

Non-compulsory work uniform

In some instances, you can claim for a non-compulsory uniform, given that it’s unique and distinctive to your organisation. Clothing is considered unique if it’s been designed and made solely for your employer. Distinctive clothing must have your employer's logo permanently attached and not be available for public purchase.

You can't claim the cost of purchasing or cleaning a plain, logo-free uniform, such as generic white shirts or black trousers that wait staff wear. Non-compulsory work uniforms are usually required to have a design registered with AusIndustry in order to be tax deductible. Shoes, socks and stockings aren’t considered part of a non-compulsory work uniform and neither is a single item such as a jumper.

Dry cleaning of work clothing

It’s possible to claim the costs of washing, drying, ironing and dry-cleaning eligible work clothes. Written evidence for your laundry expenses, such as diary entries and receipts must be kept if both the amount of your claim is greater than $150, and your total claim for work-related expenses exceeds $300. This doesn’t include car, meal allowance, award transport payments and travel allowance expenses. Learn more about work-related expenses that you can claim.

H&R Block can help

H&R Block can help you claim your work-relating clothing expenses and maximise your tax refund. You can lodge your return online or in one of our many office locations around Australia.

September 2019

Book a tax return appointment

Let us lodge your tax return for you. Our tax accountants have the knowledge to walk you through the tax refund process with ease. We are committed to offering expert and personal service year-round at a location convenient to you.

Book now

Book a tax return appointment

Let us lodge your tax return for you. Our tax accountants have the knowledge to walk you through the tax refund process with ease. We are committed to offering expert and personal service year-round at a location convenient to you.

Book now