KPMG Spark Blog

Image of person with suit on

Can I Deduct my Clothing as a Business Expense?

Now that you’re a small business owner, it’s time to step up your game when choosing clothing. After all, you can’t meet potential clients for coffee wearing break-away sweat pants. So you head out to the mall to pick up an Armani suit or two. Since you’re doing this for your business, it’s tax deductible. Right? Sadly, the IRS small business deduction for clothing doesn’t work like that. 

Image of person with suit on

Can I deduct Clothes as a Business Expense?

It's true that you can deduct the amount you spent on the purchase and upkeep of work clothes, but your clothing must meet two requirements before you can claim the costs as an “other expense” on the Schedule C tax form where you report self-employment income and expenses: 

• You must wear them as a condition of your employment. 

• The clothes cannot be suitable for everyday wear. 

Taking a look at these conditions, it looks like you won’t be able to write off those designer suits, since they wouldn’t be distinctive enough to meet these requirements. So no, you can’t write them off. Are your clothes a requirement for your job? But wait, there’s more. Just because some clothing might be distinctive, that is not enough for the write-off. Your employer must specifically require you to wear it as part of your job. 

Additionally, you cannot make the claim that since you do not wear the clothing away from work, you should be able to deduct its costs. Part of the distinctiveness test is that the clothing must not be suitable for taking the place of your regular clothing. Say, for instance, that you are a real estate agent. You probably dress up a bit to show properties to your clients and to attend open houses. If you were walking down the street wearing the Armani suit you wore to a showing earlier in the day, would someone be able to tell you’re a real estate agent for a particular agency? Probably not -- so the clothing would not be deductible. But let's say you’re in the medical profession and wear scrubs. You probably wouldn’t wear your scrubs (given a choice) out to dinner or to the movies. And other people would likely identify you as a member of the healthcare field because of your clothing. So, read on… Yes, this is clothing you can deduct. 

Final Thoughts on Claiming Clothes as a Business Expense

The cost of some types of protective clothing worn on the job -- like safety shoes or boots, safety glasses, hard hats, and work gloves -- can be deducted on your return. You would have to list your profession on your return as the type of work that requires this kind of clothing, such as if you were a carpenter, electrician, steamfitter, someone who works with chemicals, or a fishing boat crew member. The rules on when you can deduct the cost of work clothing can be confusing. If you do run across something that you don’t understand, check with a good accountant who can advise you. It is better to understand all your options rather than making a rash decision about a potential tax deduction.

KPMG SparkOctober 29, 2015Posted In: Accounting Info

Subscribe

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

KPMG Spark is an online accounting service that saves you time so you can focus on what’s most important for your business.

How I Am Kid Culture Teaches Youth About Intrinsic Value

Wrongfully imprisoned for 25 years, founder Patrick Pursely uses KPMG Spark to help keep his organization operating as a registered nonprofit.

KPMG SparkJuly 27, 2021Posted In: Client Stories

5 Steps to Successful Remote Hiring

Remote work isn't new, but it seems to have now shifted from a rare perk to the norm for many businesses. This change has many benefits for small businesses. Remote work now allows business owners to find the best talent regardless of their location. However, hiring remotely is different from in-person hiring, and small business owners need to know how to approach the process.

KPMG SparkJuly 20, 2021Posted In: Business Tips

Client Story: It’s the Little Things That Count

How innovation and KPMG Spark have helped this family-owned pen company provide opportunities for adults with disabilities.

KPMG SparkJuly 14, 2021Posted In: Client Stories
Image of person doing bookkeeping at a desk

Why Is Bookkeeping Important In 2021?

Starting a business can be a busy time for any entrepreneur and to some, worrying about bookkeeping can seem like an unnecessary task. But, as intimidating as it may be to have a bookkeeper, there are many benefits to online bookkeeping and a strong accounting platform; and several problems can arise when a business does not keep their bookkeeping up to date.

KPMG SparkJune 29, 2021Posted In: Accounting Info

How to Support Women Entrepreneurs in 2021

KPMG is committed to empowering women in the workplace, marketplace, and community. Join us to learn more about how to support women entrepreneurs in 2021.

KPMG SparkJune 22, 2021Posted In: Business Tips

How to Pivot Your Product Line

It’s easy for business owners to become attached to the dream they had when they first started the company. But what happens when a product flops? Don’t worry. A failed product launch doesn’t have to mean your company is doomed to fail. Join us to learn better how to pivot your company's product line.

KPMG SparkJune 15, 2021Posted In: Business Tips

How to Know If Your Small Business Qualifies for the R&D Credit

The Research and Development (R&D) tax credit is a tax incentive for companies that perform qualified research in the U.S. Let's take a closer look at this tax credit and see how it can help your business.

KPMG SparkJune 8, 2021Posted In: Tax Tips

COVID and Taxes: Tax Breaks That You Should Know

Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, tax time is finally here, and it’s important for everyone to learn more about all of the new tax opportunities that small businesses may qualify for.

Trevor ReillyJune 2, 2021Posted In: Tax Tips

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)

Small business stimulus funds are back with $284 billion in forgivable loans. Eligible businesses can receive 2.5x their 2019 payroll up to $2 million in forgivable PPP funds. Join us to see how you can get access to these funds.

Trevor ReillyMay 18, 2021Posted In: Business Tips