We get a lot of questions about what you can claim as a business expense, and clothing is one of the confusing topics when you’re self-employed.

Most jobs have some sort of dress code – whether you wear suits and heels or overalls and steel-toed boots. Work clothes can be a significant expense for any business owner or employee. You only buy these clothes for your job, so it feels as though they should be business expenses, right? Well, not quite.

What types of clothing can you claim as a business expense?

In 2022, Inland Revenue clamped down on overstated claims by real estate agents, naming clothing and grooming as common areas where people got it wrong.

Agents were claiming clothing costs as tax deductible, when in fact, you can only claim clothing as a business expense if it’s specialist gear that isn’t suitable for private use. Clothing you can claim includes:

  • Uniforms
  • Protective clothing like overalls, goggles or steel toecap boots
  • Safety clothing such as high-vis vests
  • Distinctive work clothing that you wouldn’t wear anywhere else

What types of clothing can’t be claimed as a business expense?

Just because you only wear an item of clothing at work doesn’t mean you can claim it as a business expense.

Anything that you could reasonably wear in your everyday life cannot be claimed as a business expense. That includes clothes you buy specifically for work, like an expensive suit, that you wouldn’t otherwise have purchased. That even applies to items like football boots, if you worked as a football coach.

Not sure whether your work clothing qualifies?

Give us a call or drop us an email – we can answer your questions about what’s claimable against your business.