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

In this guide on clothing for work, we’ll find out when can clothes be a business expense (UK). What’s more, we’ll also look at some examples of questions in respect of a sole trader or contracting limited company clothing. In addition, we’ll consider what to bear in mind when you’re claiming for work clothes. Many business owners will ask their accountant `can I buy a suit through my limited company’ and we’ll consider this later on.

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

Initial thoughts 

Questions around are work clothes tax-deductible 

There’s 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 in general will ask questions about tax relief for work clothes. What’s more, they’ll also ask when is clothing for work tax-deductible. Therefore, some examples of such questions which relate to tax deductions as a contractor and when are work clothes 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 work uniform?
  • What types of contractor attire or contractor workwear can I claim?

Therefore, in this guide we’ll investigate in the scenarios when can you claim clothing as a business expense. What’s more, we’ll look into if you’re eligible, how to claim for work clothes. Further, let’s look into when you’ll 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. Basically, 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 particular jobs such as overalls or protective clothing, etc. Therefore, when can you claim contractor clothing and 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 are work clothes tax-deductible and when you’ll receive a uniform expense deduction.

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

The 4 main areas to consider with regard to when are work clothes tax-deductible

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

Is the clothing part of an everyday wardrobe 

We should think about everyday clothing when we look at whether can you claim tax back on work clothes. If your contractor apparel is a genuine business expense, you’ll receive a work clothes tax deduction.

Let’s now look at contractor clothing and when clothes for work are tax-deductible. HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) take their basic rule from the case of a lady barrister. She tried to claim tax relief on the dark suits that 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 that the rules say that clothing, by definition, has a `dual purpose.’

Therefore, any clothing that is, or could be part of an “everyday wardrobe” is not tax-deductible. 

Are the business clothes part of a work uniform

When we consider are work clothes tax-deductible, as part of your role, your employer may require you to wear a uniform (or your client prefers you to wear a contractor uniform). Therefore, are your uniform expenses tax-deductible or can you claim a work uniform tax rebate? When we look into the rules, the cost of this will be tax-deductible as it’s 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 that of a uniform for a self-employed nurse. In this scenario the nurse can claim a uniform tax rebate (UK) and receive tax relief on uniform costs. However, they cannot claim a work clothes tax rebate on any clothing other than their uniforms. This includes items such as shoes or undergarments.

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

Forms of protective clothing 

As part of considering when are work clothes tax-deductible, we now turn to protective-type working clothes. Therefore, let’s consider is workwear tax-deductible. If you’re required to wear builders’ clothes, chemical protective workwear or other specialised clothing as part of your day-to-day work, you’re allowed to claim the cost of this. 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, they can also claim for any personal protective equipment that they need as part of your job.

Builders clothing and protective clothing are 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 to wear while working on-site. When you’re in this or similar industries, there’s lots of firms who specialise in such workwear. Therefore, you can look for a contractors clothing company that specialises in this. With regards to other clothing such as trousers and a shirt, you cannot claim for those as they are part of your everyday wardrobe. As a result, it’s only the workwear protective clothing itself you can claim as expenses.

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 will 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.

Wearing an evening dress/outfit for work 

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

Our advice is please be 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 a key part of his job.

Summary for UK contractors

Are work clothes tax-deductible -when your contractor clothing is tax-deductible

After you consider the above, you can decide if you can claim for work clothes and if they are tax-deductible. What’s more, if they’re tax-deductible, you can also claim for cleaning, repairing, or replacing these as and when the need arises. HMRC have online advice under tax relief for employees covering uniforms, work clothing and tools. Furthermore, you can also claim for a laundry tax deduction each year too if you’re eligible. Also, there’s flat rate expenses available, depending on which industry you are in.

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

When you’re claiming for 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 -claim tax relief on your clothing for work

If you own your own company and your clothing is allowable under the above guidelines, you can claim these as an expense through your company. You will do this when preparing the end of year company accounts. As a result, this’ll 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’ll help lower their income tax bills.

People who’re employed can also claim for their tax-deductible work clothes through their Self-Assessment tax returns. In return, this’ll usually result in tax refunds for them.

Final thoughts 

When we consider when are clothes for work tax-deductible and in particular contractor clothing is 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 are work clothes tax-deductible. Therefore, the above shows a good summary of what to bear in mind. We explain what the rules are in terms of claiming work clothes on tax and when your work 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

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Published On: January 4th, 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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