The following information is provided as a convenience and has been sourced from the Australian Tax Office website. Any links below will open in a new window on the ATO website.
Clothing, laundry and dry-cleaning expenses
You can claim a deduction for the costs you incur to buy, hire, or repair clothing (and footwear) if it falls within one of these categories:
- occupation-specific clothing
- protective clothing
- compulsory uniforms
- non-compulsory uniforms (that your employer registers with AusIndustry).
You can also claim a deduction for the costs you incur to clean (launder) or dry-clean work clothing.
You may need to have written evidence that shows:
- you bought the clothing
- the amount you spent
- your cleaning costs.
You can’t claim a deduction if your employer:
- buys, repairs, replaces or cleans your work clothing
- reimburses you for expenses you incur on or for work clothing.
You also can’t claim a deduction for buying, hiring, repairing or cleaning conventional clothing you buy for work, such as black trousers.
‘Conventional clothing’ is everyday clothing worn by people regardless of their occupation – for example, business attire worn by office workers or jeans or drill shirts worn by tradespeople.
For a summary of this content in poster format, see Clothing and laundry (PDF, 845KB)This link will download a file.
You can claim for occupation-specific clothing that distinctly identifies you as a person associated with a particular occupation. For example, the chequered pants a chef wears or a judge’s robe.
Occupation-specific clothing, isn’t every day in nature and allows the public to easily recognise your occupation. Items of clothing that are traditionally worn in a profession are not considered occupation-specific, where the clothing can be worn by multiple professions.
You can’t claim the cost you incur to buy or clean clothes you wear for work that are not specific to your occupation. For example, a bartender’s black trousers and white shirt, a business person’s suit or a swimming instructor’s swimwear.
Example: occupation-specific clothing
Joe is a chef with two jobs. When working at a restaurant he wears the traditional chef’s uniform of chequered pants, white jacket and chef’s toque. He also works on a food truck, but just wears jeans and a t-shirt at that job.
Joe can claim his traditional chef’s uniform, but not his food truck clothing. The chef’s clothing is relevant to his profession, but the jeans and t-shirt are conventional clothes.
End of example
You can claim a deduction for clothing and footwear that you wear to protect you from specific risks of illness or injury from your work activities or your work environment. To be considered protective, the items must have protective features or functions and provide a sufficient degree of protection against the risks you are exposed to in carrying out your work.
Protective clothing includes:
- fire-resistant clothing
- sun-protection clothing with a UPF sun protection rating
- safety-coloured vests
- non-slip nurse’s shoes
- protective boots such as steel-capped boots or rubber boots for concreters
- gloves and heavy-duty shirts and trousers
- occupational heavy duty wet-weather gear
- boiler suits, overalls, smocks or aprons you wear to avoid damage or soiling your ordinary clothes during your work activities.
You can’t claim a deduction for conventional clothes (ordinary, everyday clothing), if they lack the features or functions for protection against the risks of illness or injury at your work. For example, jeans, drill shirts, shorts, trousers, socks or normal everyday enclosed shoes.
Clothing that provides a degree of protection against the risk of illness or injury includes, but is not limited to, clothing that:
- is made to cope with more rigorous conditions, where conventional clothing would be inadequate
- is designed to protect you – for example heavy duty shirts and trousers, distinct from ordinary cotton drill trousers, shorts and short sleeve shirts that may be considered as work wear but do not adequately protect the wearer from the risk of injury or illness
- has a density of weave which gives a UV rating sufficient to protect you from the sun where your job requires you to work outdoors.
Example: can’t claim a deduction for conventional clothing
Bob works on a building site. He wears jeans with T-shirts or long sleeve shirts at work. Bob wears these clothes to work as they are comfortable and, although not very durable, they afford Bob some protection from skin abrasions when handling tools and building materials at the building site.
The jeans and shirts resemble clothes commonly worn as regular clothing and Bob also wears them when travelling to and from work. The cost of Bob’s jeans and shirts is not an allowable deduction.
Even if Bob wore the items only at work, he can’t claim a deduction. The clothing only provides limited protection from injury. This means the expense is mainly for his comfort, which is a personal requirement.
End of example
Example: claiming a deduction for protective clothing
At other times Bob, from the previous example, wears heavy denim trousers, steel capped boots and a hard hat when working at the building site. The inherently protective nature of these items means their main use is for Bob’s protection at work, rather than his personal requirements.
The expense is not private or domestic in nature and there is the necessary connection between the expense and Bob’s income earning activities. This means he can claim a deduction for the cost of these items.
End of example
You can claim for a compulsory uniform you wear at work. A compulsory uniform is a set of clothing that identifies you as an employee of an organisation. Your employer must make it compulsory to wear the uniform through a strictly enforced workplace agreement or policy.
A compulsory uniform must either:
- be distinctive to your particular organisation so that a casual observer can clearly identify you as working for a particular employer
- identify the products or services provided by your employer.
Shoes, socks and stockings are generally not deductible. In limited circumstances, you may be able to claim a deduction for shoes, socks and stockings if:
- they are an essential part of a distinctive compulsory uniform
- their characteristics (colour, style and type) are an integral and distinctive part of your uniform that your employer specifies in the uniform policy.
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. Clothing is unique if it has been designed and made only for the employer. Clothing is distinctive if it has the employer’s logo permanently attached and the clothing is not available to the public.
Conventional clothing (ordinary, everyday clothing) is not a compulsory uniform even if your employer requires you to wear it, or you pin a name badge to it.
You can claim a deduction for the costs you incur to buy and clean clothing that is a compulsory uniform.
Example: conventional clothes worn with a uniform
Rick works at a supermarket. His employer’s uniform policy requires him to buy and wear a shirt with the supermarket’s logo embroidered on it. If he shows up to work not wearing this shirt he is sent home and issued with a warning.
The uniform policy also includes a requirement to wear black pants and closed black shoes, but doesn’t stipulate any other qualities of those items.
Rick can claim a deduction for the cost of the shirts as they are a compulsory uniform, but he can’t claim the cost of the pants or shoes.
Even though his employer requires him to wear a specific colour, they are not distinctive enough to make them part of his uniform and are still conventional clothes.
End of example
You can’t claim for non-compulsory work uniforms, unless your employer has registered the design with AusIndustry. This means the uniform is on the Register of Approved Occupational Clothing and you wear the uniform at work.
Shoes, socks and stockings can never form part of a non-compulsory work uniform. Neither can a single item of clothing such as, a jumper.
Lena works in administration for a bus company. The administration staff usually wear a suit in the company colour with the company logo. It’s not compulsory for Lena to wear the suit, however her employer encourages staff members to wear it. Lena’s employer has registered the suit as a non-compulsory uniform with AusIndustry.
As such, Lena can claim a deduction for the cost of buying the suit. This is because it is registered it with AusIndustry on the Register of approved occupational clothing.
End of example
You can claim a deduction for the costs you incur to wash (launder), dry and iron clothing you wear at work, even if the clothing is supplied by your employer. If it’s:
- protective (for example, a hi-vis jacket)
- occupation specific and not a conventional, everyday piece of clothing such as jeans or general business attire
- a uniform either non-compulsory and registered with AusIndustry or compulsory.
This also includes laundromat and dry-cleaning expenses.
You can’t claim a deduction if your employer launders your clothing or reimburses you.
We consider that a reasonable basis for working out your laundry claim is:
- $1 per load if it only contains clothing you wear at work from one of the categories above
- 50c per load if you mix personal items of clothing with work clothing from one of the categories above.
You must have written evidence, such as diary entries and receipts, for your laundry expenses if the amount you claim is both:
- greater than $150
- exceeds $300 for your total claim for work-related expenses – not including car, meal allowance, award transport payments allowance and travel allowance expenses.
If you receive an allowance from your employer for laundry expenses:
- you can only claim a deduction for the amount you actually spent, not simply the amount of your allowance
- the allowance is assessable income, which you must include on your tax return.
If your laundry expenses are $150 or less, you can claim the amount you incur on laundry without providing written evidence of your laundry expenses. Even if your total claim for work-related expenses is more than $300 including your laundry expenses.
However, if your total claim for work-related expenses is more than $300, you must have written evidence for your other work-related expenses.
You need to be able to show how you came up with the total of your laundry expense claim. This isn’t an automatic deduction.
If you choose a different basis to work out your claim, we may ask you to explain that basis.
You can use the myDeductions tool in the ATO app to record your expenses or upload a photo of receipts or invoices.
Dry-cleaning and repair expenses
You can claim your actual costs you incur for dry-cleaning and repairing work-related clothing. You must have written evidence to substantiate your claim if your total claim for work-related expenses exceeds $300 – not including car, meal allowance, award transport payments allowance and travel allowance expenses.