To get right to it, the answer is most likely “no.”
The IRS has very strict rules for what type of clothing can be deducted. While guidelines can be found in IRS Publication 529, we also look to tax court cases for further information on what the IRS deems deductible clothing expenses.
However, there is some good news – a narrow “yes” – you can deduct the cost of the following items:
- Protective Clothing. If you are required to wear a hard hat, protective eyewear, steel-toed boots, or gloves to do your job, they are deductible expenses.
- Mandatory Uniforms. If your employer requires you to purchase and wear a uniform, you may deduct the related cost on your tax return if the uniform is distinctive and not suitable for everyday wear. (More on what is “suitable for everyday wear” below.)
If your protective clothing or uniforms need cleaning or maintenance, those costs would also be deductible. This means you can include related dry cleaning or repair costs on your tax return.
The IRS considers clothing purchases that do not fall into these categories – purchases that are not protective clothing or mandatory uniforms – to be personal expenses. We can’t deduct these personal expenses on a tax return.