Many jobs require workers to adhere to a certain dress code that may involve wearing dress clothes like suits and dresses. The Internal Revenue Service allows workers to write off or deduct a variety of work-related expenses from their personal income tax returns, including certain types of clothing. However, dress clothes do not qualify for a tax deduction.
Clothing Tax Deduction Rules
The IRS states that you can take a tax deduction for the cost and upkeep of clothing that you must wear as a condition of your employment and that is not suitable for everyday wear. In other words, if you have to wear a certain piece of clothing for work that you couldn't reasonably wear for any other purpose, it is deductible. Dress clothes like suits, button-down shirts, blouses, skirts and dresses may be required by a company dress code, but they are suitable for other purposes so they are not tax deductible.
Examples of Tax Deductible Clothing
Generic dress clothes and work clothes are not tax deductible. The IRS lists the following as examples of types of clothes that count as tax write-offs: work uniforms such as those worn by police officers, firefighters, health care workers, professional athletes and transportation workers and theatrical clothing worn by musicians and entertainers that are not suitable for everyday wear.
Protective clothing and gear that is required by your job is tax deductible. For example, if you have to purchase safety classes, boots or a hardhat to fulfill your job duties you can deduct their cost on your tax return.
The deduction for work clothing is an itemized deduction, so even your purchased clothes that qualify for a deduction you might not benefit from taking the deduction on your tax return. According to TurboTax, you must choose between subtracting the sum of your itemized deductions from your taxable income or a standard deduction that equals $5,700 for single taxpayers and $11,400 for married taxpayers filing jointly for 2010 returns. If all of your itemized deductions do not exceed your standard deduction, you will save money by taking the standard deduction.