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  • Clothing, laundry and dry-cleaning expenses

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of buying and cleaning occupation-specific clothing, protective clothing and unique, distinctive uniforms.

    To claim a deduction you may need to have written evidence that you purchased the clothing and diary records or written evidence of your cleaning costs. Written evidence must be kept for a representative period of at least one month if both of the following apply:

    • the amount you claim is greater than $150
    • your total claim for work-related expenses exceeds $300.

    If you received an allowance from your employer for clothing, uniforms, laundry or dry-cleaning, make sure you show the amount of the allowance on your tax return as it is assessable income. You can only claim a deduction for the amount you actually spent.

    For a summary of this content in poster format, see Clothing and laundry (PDF, 197KB)This link will download a file.

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    Occupation-specific clothing

    You can claim for clothing that is specific to your occupation, isn't everyday in nature and allows the public to easily recognise your occupation – such as the checked pants a chef wears.

    You can't claim the cost of purchasing or cleaning clothes you bought to wear for work that are not specific to your occupation, such as a bartender's black trousers and white shirt, a business person's suit or a swimming instructor's swimwear.

    See also:

    Protective clothing

    You can claim for clothing and footwear that you wear to protect yourself from the risk of illness or injury posed by your income-earning activities or the environment in which you carry them out. To be considered protective, the items must provide a sufficient degree of protection against that risk.

    Protective clothing includes:

    • fire-resistant and sun-protection clothing
    • safety-coloured vests
    • non-slip nurse's shoes
    • rubber boots for concreters
    • steel-capped boots, gloves, and heavy-duty shirts and trousers
    • overalls, smocks or aprons you wear to avoid damage or soiling your ordinary clothes during your income-earning activities.

    Ordinary clothes you wear at work (such as jeans, drill shirts, shorts, trousers, socks, closed shoes) are not regarded as protective clothing if they lack protective qualities designed for the risks of your work.

    Clothing that provides a degree of protection against the risk of illness or injury includes, but is not limited to, clothing that:

    • is made to cope with more rigorous conditions, where conventional clothing would be inadequate
    • is designed to protect you – for example heavy duty shirts and trousers, distinct from ordinary cotton drill trousers, shorts and short sleeve shirts that may be considered as work wear but do not adequately protect the wearer from the risk of injury or illness
    • has a density of weave which gives a UV rating sufficient to protect you from the sun where your job requires you to work outdoors.

    Example: can't claim a deduction for conventional clothing

    Bob works on a building site. He wears jeans with T-shirts or long sleeve shirts at work. Bob wears these clothes to work as they are comfortable and, although not very durable, they afford Bob some protection from skin abrasions when handling tools and building materials at the building site.

    The jeans and shirts resemble clothes commonly worn as regular clothing and Bob also finds them suitable to wear when travelling to and from work. The cost of Bob's jeans and shirts is not an allowable deduction.

    Even if Bob wore the items only at work, a deduction would still not be allowable. The clothing provides only limited protection from injury and so the expense is mainly for his personal needs of modesty, decency and warmth.

    End of example

    Example: claiming a deduction for protective clothing

    At other times Bob, from the previous example, wears heavy denim trousers, steel capped boots and a hard hat when working at the building site. The inherently protective nature of these items means their main use is for Bob's protection at work, rather than his requirements of modesty, decency and warmth.

    As the expense is not private or domestic in nature and there is the necessary connection between the expense and Bob's income earning activities, he can claim a deduction for the cost of these items.

    End of example

    You can't claim the cost of purchasing or cleaning ordinary clothes you wear for work that may also protect you. For example, you can't claim for normal, closed shoes, even though you wear them to protect your feet.

    Work uniforms

    You can claim 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. Clothing is distinctive if it has the employer's logo permanently attached and the clothing is not available to the public.

    You can't claim the cost of purchasing or cleaning a plain uniform.

    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're 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 (colour, style and type) are specified in your employer's uniform policy.

    You may be able to claim for a single item of distinctive clothing, such as a jumper, if it's compulsory for you to wear it at work.

    Non-compulsory work uniform

    You can't claim expenses incurred for non-compulsory work uniforms unless your employer has registered the design with AusIndustry.

    Shoes, socks and stockings can never form part of a non-compulsory work uniform, and neither can a single item such as a jumper.

    See also:

    Cleaning of work clothing

    You can claim the costs of washing, drying and ironing eligible work clothes, or having them dry-cleaned.

    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
    • the amount your total claim for work-related expenses exceeds $300 - not including car, meal allowance, award transport payments allowance and travel allowance 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 the load is made up only of work-related clothing, and
    • 50 cents per load if other laundry items are included.

    If you choose a different basis to work out your claim, we may ask you to explain that basis.

    Dry-cleaning expenses

    You can claim the cost of dry-cleaning work-related clothing. If your total claim for work-related expenses exceeds $300 – not including car, meal allowance, award transport payments allowance and travel allowance expenses - you must have written evidence to substantiate your claim.

    See also:

    Last modified: 29 May 2019QC 31907