Case V78

RK Todd DP

Administrative Appeals Tribunal

Decision date: 20 May 1988.

R.K. Todd (Deputy President)

The applicant in this reference is a sales tax officer with the Australian Taxation Office. In the 1985 fiscal year he claimed inter alia a deduction under sec. 51(1) of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 (``the ITAA'') for the cost and maintenance of clothing and footwear and for self-education expenses relating to the cost of meals consumed while pursuing a tertiary course. These expenses were disallowed both on assessment and on objection.

2. I shall deal firstly with the expenses relating to clothing and footwear. The applicant spent $350 on the purchase of a suit and $85 on shoes which he described as conservative. He also expended $73 on the maintenance of his work clothes and $12 on the maintenance of his work footwear. In evidence the applicant said that he was required to wear a suit and tie and

ATC 549

appropriate footwear as part of the conditions of his employment and that without this direction he would not have worn attire of this nature because it was not to his liking. For this reason he believes that his claim should succeed.

3. This case raises very similar issues to those canvassed in Case U212,
87 ATC 1195 and Case U219,
87 ATC 1221. I repeat the findings stated in those cases. In order for this applicant to succeed he must show that the clothing and shoes in question are ``distinctive and unique to the nature of the employment or business having regard to particular, special or accepted work clothing requirements including its availability to be worn by members of the general public'': Case U95,
87 ATC 575 at p. 580. Along these lines it would be satisfactory for the applicant to prove that the clothing in question was not suited to anything other than his particular occupation.

4. Failing this, it is necessary for the applicant to prove that his clothes were subjected to ``abnormal wear and tear''. As was stated in Case U219 at p. 1223, this would involve specific evidence of expenditure and could be shown in one of two ways:

``... either that, due to specific events, expenditure was incurred during the year of income on replacing clothing damaged at work or that due to the nature of the trade, such as being a mechanic, clothes worn at work required cleaning and/or replacement additional to that which would be normal. In either case the expenditure would, I believe, need to be itemised or detailed in some way.''

5. The present applicant's clothing and footwear are not ``unique'' or ``distinctive''. Many professionals and businessmen wear suits and conservative shoes in the course of their work. Furthermore, many others choose to wear such clothing out of work hours on social occasions: See Case U219 at para. 6 [p. 1223] of the Reasons for Decision. It is therefore necessary to consider whether his clothing and footwear have been exposed to ``abnormal wear and tear''. While the applicant gave evidence that his job often involved working in dirty environments he was not able to link this sufficiently with the expenditure claimed. In the 1985 fiscal year, he did not have to actually replace clothing because it was damaged at work; rather he purchased a suit once he was promoted to a position in which he was required to wear one. The applicant gave evidence of particular instances when his clothing was damaged, but he failed to relate this to actual expenditure on the maintenance of his clothing. This was also the case in relation to the maintenance of his shoes. For these reasons I believe that the expenditure on the purchase and maintenance of the applicant's suit and shoes was of a private nature and therefore he cannot be allowed a deduction in relation to the expenditure upon these items.

6. The applicant also claimed $600 for meals eaten while undertaking a course which not only improved his promotion prospects but in which he was obliged to enrol as a condition of his employment. He gave evidence that on four nights per week for 30 weeks of the year he spent $5 a night on Chinese meals. The issue of meals was also considered in Case U212, in which an employee of the Australian Taxation Office successfully claimed a deduction for the difference between the costs of meals eaten away from home because of participation in an approved tertiary course and the cost of meals eaten at home. The latter amount is naturally of a private nature.

7. The representative of the Commissioner challenged the correctness of the decision in Case U212, but it is unnecessary to reconsider that point in this case, for the applicant here did not provide any evidence as to what were the costs of meals taken at home. It is conceivable that he could spend $5 a night at home. I am not in a position to be able to apportion the cost and I find that the expenditure on meals was private in nature. For this reason the claim for meals should not succeed.

8. For the reasons given above the Tribunal affirms the objection decision under review.

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