As a tax agent, I often advise clients on what they can and cannot claim on their tax returns. A common area of enquiry is the deductibility of uniform and laundry expenses. For many taxpayers, these can be legitimate deductions, but it’s important to understand the rules and requirements set by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). Here’s a guide to help you determine if you can claim these expenses.

1. Eligibility for Uniform Expenses

  • Specific Work Uniforms: You can claim expenses for uniforms that are specific to your job and have distinctive features like logos, or are specific to your occupation (e.g., chef’s uniform).
  • Compulsory Uniforms: The uniform must be compulsory to wear while on the job. If it’s just encouraged but not mandatory, the expenses are not deductible.
  • Registered Uniforms: In some cases, the uniform must be registered with AusIndustry.

2. Non-Eligible Clothing

  • Conventional Clothing: General business attire or conventional clothing (like black pants and white shirts) is not deductible, even if your employer requires it.
  • Personal Wear: Clothing you wear for both work and personal use cannot be claimed.

3. Claiming Laundry Expenses

  • Laundry and Maintenance: You can claim the costs of laundering and maintaining your eligible work uniform. This includes washing, drying, and ironing expenses.
  • Small Claims: For small laundry expenses (up to $150), you may not need to provide receipts, but you should have a reasonable basis for your claim.

4. Keeping Records

  • Receipts and Documentation: Keep receipts for the purchase of work uniforms and any laundry services used.
  • Diary of Laundry Costs: If you launder the uniform yourself, keep a diary for a representative one-month period to substantiate your claim.

5. Special Items and Protective Clothing

  • Protective Gear: Expenses for protective clothing and items (like steel-capped boots, safety glasses, or hard hats) required for your job are deductible.
  • Occupation-Specific Clothing: Certain occupation-specific clothing (like a barrister’s robe) may also be deductible.

6. Claiming the Deduction

  • Tax Return Filing: Include your uniform and laundry expenses in the ‘work-related clothing’ section of your tax return.
  • Accuracy of Claims: Ensure the accuracy of your claims and be prepared to provide evidence if the ATO requests it.

7. Seeking Professional Advice

  • Complex Situations: If you’re unsure about what you can claim, or if your situation is complex, seek advice from a professional tax agent.

Uniform and laundry expenses can be legitimate tax deductions, but it’s important to adhere to ATO guidelines. Ensure that your work clothing meets the criteria for deductibility, and maintain accurate records of your expenses. By understanding these rules and keeping proper documentation, you can confidently claim these expenses on your tax return, reducing your taxable income legitimately.