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  • Writer's pictureMatthew Carberry

What deductions can you claim for work clothing?

Does your job require you to wear (and clean) specific or protective clothing?

Perhaps you work in the mines and have had to purchase a new pair of steel-cap boots and overalls this financial year, or maybe you're a lifeguard that needs to wear sunglasses for every shift, or perhaps you even work in a retail store where you are required to wear clothes purchased in your own store.

If you work in an occupation where you're required to wear specific clothing, protective clothing or a unique, distinctive uniform, and you have had to buy or clean this clothing as a direct result of your job, you will likely be eligible to claim a deduction on your tax return. But be weary, you will need to have stringent written evidence on the purchase and cleaning expenses associated with the clothing.

Claiming for work clothing expenses isn't as straightforward as we might seem to think, so have a read below to see if you can claim your clothing expenses on this year's tax return.


You can claim when the clothing is:

  • specific to your occupation

  • not everyday in nature

  • allows the public to easily recognise your occupation

You cannot claim the cost of purchasing or cleaning clothes that you bought to wear for work that are not specific to your occupation. So if you buy a suit to wear to work, you cannot claim this on your tax return (sorry business workers, I know that's not what you wanted to hear!).


You can claim for clothing and footwear that you must wear to protect yourself from the risk of illness or injury that you might face on the job. The ATO is quite strict when it comes to the guidelines for these items 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 (includes sunglasses for outdoor workers)

  • safety-coloured vests

  • non-slip nurse's shoes

  • rubber boots for concreters

  • steel-capped boots, gloves, overalls, and heavy-duty shirts and trousers

  • overalls, smocks and aprons you wear to protect your ordinary clothes

If the clothing you purchase lacks specific qualities that make them suitable for the risks of your work, then you can forget the claim.


You can claim for a compulsory or non-compulsory uniform that is unique and distinctive to the organisation you work for under some conditions. The term unique is defined as being designed and made only for the employer. Distinctive can be defined as the employer's logo being permanently attached, and where the clothing is not available to the public.

Compulsory work uniform

Employees of organisations that strictly enforce a uniform policy, wherein a specific set of clothing is compulsory to wear while you're at work, can claim for compulsory uniform expenses. You may be able to claim a deduction for shoes, socks, and stockings where they are an essential part of a distinctive compulsory uniform. This will need to be outlined in your employer's uniform policy, so be sure to check before you claim.

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

Unless your employer has registered the design of your uniform with AusIndustry, you won't be able to claim the expenses incurred for non-compulsory work uniforms. Shoes, socks and stockings can never form part of a non-compulsory work uniform, and neither can a single item such as a jumper.


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

The ATO requires written evidence of the costs you have incurred for cleaning if the total is above $150, or if your total claim for work-related expenses exceeds $300 (not including car, meal allowance, award transport payments allowance and travel allowance expenses.

If your claim is under $300, you may use a reasonable basis to calculate your cleaning costs (i.e. $1 per load for exclusive work clothing, or 50c a load if other non-work related items are in the load). If you use a different method, make sure that you're able to explain it should the ATO come knocking!

Do you receive an allowance from your employer for clothing, laundry or dry-cleaning expenses? If your employer provides you with an allowance for these expenses, be sure to include this on your tax return.


Don't miss out on your best return. Secure your appointment with Verve Group today, phone (08) 8120 4877 or book online at

Book your appointment online with a Verve Group tax guru for your chance to win a $500 travel voucher (conditions apply).

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