Are work clothes tax-deductible?

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Introduction 

Can you claim contractor work clothing (UK) or business clothing as a genuine business expense while contracting in the UK? Indeed, if you’re a limited company contractor, when are work clothes tax-deductible? In this guide, we’ll research contractor clothing and find out when you can claim for work clothes. We’ll investigate when you can claim tax back on work clothes (UK) as part of your contractor tax deductions. When can you write off clothes for work if you want to claim work attire through your contractor limited company or small business? Indeed, there are many common thoughts around contractor clothes from both contractors and other business owners alike. These include when buying a suit is a business expense and are shoes tax-deductible. We’ll delve into limited company clothing expense rules in more detail later. Therefore, let’s determine when you’ll receive a business clothing tax deduction.

In this guide on clothing for work, we’ll find out when clothes can be a business expense (UK). Moreover, we’ll look at some examples of questions regarding a sole trader or contracting limited company clothing. In addition, we’ll look at what to consider when you’re claiming for work clothes. Many business owners will ask their accountants if they can buy a suit through their limited company, and we’ll consider this later.

In this guide, we’ll look at when I can claim for work clothes (UK) and when work clothing is a business expense. We’ll also examine the tax rules around limited company clothing expenses and when business owners are entitled to a work clothing tax deduction. Furthermore, we’ll consider the UK tax rules concerning whether you can claim work clothes on tax for those employed or self-employed.

Initial thoughts 

Questions on work clothes are tax-deductible 

There are various questions around when you can claim clothes as business expenses. These arise from different types of UK contractors and small business owners. When we consider clothing, contractors, self-employed people, or workers generally will ask questions about tax relief for work clothes. What’s more, they’ll ask when clothing for work is tax-deductible. Therefore, some examples of such questions which relate to tax deductions as a contractor and when work clothes are tax-deductible in general will include:

  • Are business clothes tax-deductible?
  • Are uniforms tax-deductible?
  • Is business clothing tax-deductible?
  • Can I buy clothes through my business? If so, what sort of contractor outfits can I claim?
  • Can I claim clothing for work, and when will I receive a work clothes deduction?
  • Are work shoes tax-deductible?
  • Can you write off clothes as a business expense?
  • Can I buy a suit through my company? In addition, how about contractor work shirts?
  • Is workwear clothing for builders allowable for tax?
  • How much can I claim for work clothes?
  • How much can you claim for a work uniform?
  • What types of contractor attire or contractor workwear can I claim?

Therefore, in this guide, we’ll investigate when you can claim clothing as a business expense. What’s more, we’ll explore how to claim for work clothes if you’re eligible. Further, let’s research when you receive tax relief on work clothes (UK) as tax deductions for contract workers.

Tax-deductible work clothing (UK) -what to consider?

Whether you’re a sole trader or you run your own company, it’ll almost certainly be the case that you buy high-quality clothes to wear for work. This could be some corporate clothes or office clothes (UK). Indeed, this could be a suit, work trousers, contractor shirts, smart work clothes, pencil skirts, smart dresses for work (UK) and formal clothing. On the other hand, it could be a contractor outfit or outfits for specific jobs such as overalls or protective clothing, etc. Therefore, when can you claim contractor business clothing as part of your business expenses, and will you receive a contractor work clothes tax deduction for any items in your contractor wardrobe? As this is a grey area, we’ll look at when work clothes are tax-deductible and when you’ll receive a uniform expense deduction.

As a UK contractor, you may be able to claim work clothes as part of your tax deductions for contractors. Please read on to see if you can do this. However, in many instances, limited company contractors and small business owners often miss two expenses. These are Trivial Benefits and the Annual Event (Christmas Party). What’s more, there are specific rules to follow if you plan to make company donations or give business gifts.

The four main areas when work clothes are tax-deductible

Let’s now research when work clothing is tax-deductible and where you’ll receive a work clothes allowance. The following four points are some clothing that HMRC says are specifically allowable. 

Is the clothing part of an everyday wardrobe? 

We should consider everyday clothing when determining whether you can claim tax back on work clothes. You’ll receive a work clothes tax deduction if your contractor apparel is a genuine business expense.

Let’s now look at contractor clothing and when clothes for work are tax-deductible. HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) takes its basic rule from the case of a lady barrister. She tried to claim tax relief on the dark suits she bought to wear for court appearances. HMRC did not let her claim the tax relief. This is because she could have worn those suits on occasions that didn’t relate to her work. In addition, a further reason was the rules say that clothing, by definition, has a `dual purpose.’

Therefore, clothing that is or could be part of an “everyday wardrobe” isn’t tax-deductible. 

Are the business clothes part of a work uniform?

As part of your role, your employer may require you to wear a uniform (or your client may prefer you to wear a contractor uniform). Therefore, are your uniform expenses tax-deductible, or can you claim a work uniform tax rebate? When we research the rules, your work clothes are tax-deductible as they’re required for work only and will not have a dual purpose. Furthermore, when you wear a work uniform, it clearly shows what you do. In this case, you can claim clothing as a business expense and claim back uniform tax. When you complete your annual tax return, you can claim uniform tax as part of the employment section. As a result, you’ll receive uniform tax relief as either a work uniform tax deduction in your tax bill or part of your PAYE tax code.

An example of a work uniform is a uniform for a self-employed nurse. In this scenario, the nurse can claim a uniform tax rebate (UK) and receive tax relief on your uniform costs. However, they can’t claim a work clothes tax rebate on clothing other than their uniforms. This includes items such as shoes or undergarments.

Furthermore, please note when you’re working for yourself, there can be uniform benefits. If your customers recognise you in your work uniform, this may help generate other future leads and sales for your business.

Do you need protective clothing? 

As part of considering when work clothes are tax-deductible, we now turn to protective type working clothes. Therefore, let’s consider when workwear is tax-deductible. You can claim this cost if you must wear builders’ clothes, chemical protective workwear or other specialised clothing as part of your day-to-day work. This could be workwear protective clothing for builders or other construction or industry-type jobs. Besides a builder’s work clothes and work boots tax deduction, you can claim any personal protective equipment you require as part of your job.

Protective builder’s clothing is designed to keep you safe while you work in your chosen environment. For example, you could be a self-employed builder and buy a helmet and protective footwear while working on-site. When you’re in this or similar industries, many firms specialise in such workwear. Therefore, you can look for a specialist contractors clothing company. Regarding other clothing such as trousers and a shirt, you can’t claim those as they’re part of your everyday wardrobe. As a result, you can only claim the workwear protective clothing as an expense.

Costumes for entertainers 

When we consider claiming for business clothing and are work clothes tax-deductible, if you’re a musician, actor, or another type of entertainer, you may incur work clothing expenses when you buy costumes. They could be “acquired for a stage, film or TV performance.” In this case, you can claim tax relief on these items.

Wear an evening dress/outfit for work 

From an HMRC standpoint, they give an example of a waiter when work clothes are tax-deductible. He must wear appropriate evening dress, including a tailcoat, for work. This isn’t part of an `everyday wardrobe’; therefore, he can claim this.

Our advice is to be please careful in this area. The cost of buying or hiring evening dress for a business function such as an awards ceremony would not receive tax relief. This difference is because attending these functions is unnecessary for you to do your job. Compare this to the waiter serving you; it’s vital to his job.

Summary for UK contractors

Are work clothes tax-deductible & when is contractor clothing tax-deductible?

After considering the above, you can decide if you can claim work clothes and if they are tax-deductible. Moreover, if they’re tax-deductible, you can claim for cleaning, repairing, or replacing them when needed. HMRC have online advice under tax relief for employees covering uniforms, work clothing and tools. Furthermore, you can also claim a laundry tax deduction each year if you’re eligible. Also, flat-rate expenses are available, depending on which industry you’re in.

If you’re self-employed, form P87 can be used to claim Income Tax Relief on job expenses (for years other than the current tax year). You can complete this form online or call HMRC.

When you claim work clothes during the tax year, you should obtain a receipt for it. Nowadays, many retailers will ask you for your email address. Once you give this to them, they’ll email the receipt to you to save on paper. 

Are work clothes tax-deductible & how do you claim tax relief on work clothing?

If you own your own company and your clothing is allowable under the above guidelines, you can claim it as an expense through your company. You can do this when preparing the end-of-year company accounts, which will help save company tax.

On the other hand, self-employed will claim for their tax-deductible work clothes through their Self-Assessment tax returns. In turn, this will help lower their income tax bills.

Employees can claim for their tax-deductible work clothes through their Self-Assessment tax returns. In return, this will usually result in tax refunds for them.

Final thoughts 

If we consider when clothes for work are tax-deductible in terms of contractor clothing, it’s another one of those grey areas. Indeed, it’s not always clear what you can claim for work clothes or business clothing or even when work clothes are tax-deductible. Therefore, the above shows a good summary of what to bear in mind. We explain the rules for claiming work clothes on tax and when your clothes are tax-deductible. If you’re eligible for clothing tax relief, please remember to claim back uniform tax rebate, laundry tax relief and claim for your protective clothing.

Please also have a read of the article covering tax tips for contractors.

Link to Contractor Advice UK group on

LinkedIn    https://www.linkedin.com/groups/4660081/

Published On: April 6th, 2024 / Categories: Expenses, Expenses Guides /

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2 Comments

  1. Himanshu November 19, 2019 at 3:15 pm - Reply

    A business suit purchased but has your company name and logo embroidered.
    Would that be an allowable expense?

    Same question for for outdoor jackets with company name and logo.

    • scott291074 November 19, 2019 at 7:08 pm - Reply

      Unfortunately not Himanshu! If there is a `duality of purpose’ included i.e. a suit could be worn for a social function and an outdoor jacket could be worn for social reasons then you cannot claim.

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