Something we like to tell our clients regarding tax write-offs and advice: “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.” Such was the case when one man set the internet ablaze with his Tik Tok describing how he writes off all his business suits by turning them into “uniforms”. His advice was to embroider your name or initials inside your suits/jackets/pants to turn them into tax-deductible uniforms for your business. He even embroidered his signature onto his white dress shirts to add those too! Spoiler alert: this doesn’t work but it did amuse accountants for a while. It also got everyone thinking: what IS a deductible uniform?
The reason why the embroidery trick does not work is because the IRS generally does not allow any clothing to be deducted that could be worn outside of work. Uniforms must be needed to do your job. Some examples of these include flame retardant clothing for those working in manufacturing, safety gear for construction workers or scrubs for nurses and doctors. Anything related to safety for your workers can typically fall under this category like hard hats and safety goggles.
Uniforms must also not be able to be worn as “everyday wear”. So, if your workplace requires you to wear suits or business casual clothes to work, you are not able to write these clothes off because they can be worn outside of work as well. If you are an attorney who wears business suits to work, the cost of these suits are not deductible because you could also wear them for non-work related reasons such as your friend’s wedding. Embroidering your law firm’s name on the suit doesn’t change this. However, a doctor’s scrubs would not be considered clothing that would be practically worn outside of work and therefore deductible.
Costs to clean and repair uniforms can also be deducted as a business expense, as long as they are reasonable and necessary. Printing your logo en-masse onto shirts/polos/jackets and sending them out to vendors, clients or employees also counts as a deductible expense for businesses.
In summary, a good way to remember this is that tax-deductible uniforms are those that your employer requires you to wear every day but they cannot be worn as everyday wear. The White House chef can deduct their white jacket but the President cannot deduct his suits. A judge can deduct their courtroom robe, but a lawyer cannot deduct their courtroom clothes. Darth Vader can deduct his helmet, but Baby Yoda cannot deduct his lil’ robe. As always, we are here and ready to answer any questions you have regarding tax-deductible work uniforms – contact a ClarkSilva member today!