What clothes you can claim at tax time - and what you shouldn't.

It’s approximately two weeks to the end of the financial year, and right about now you might be scrounging around for receipts, seeing what you can claim – or planning some tax-redeemable purchases before June 30.

But if clothes are among your would-be deductions, watch out. Those black pants may not be as reimbursable as you think they are.

That’s according to the Australian Taxation Office, who have warned they will be more closely scrutinising work-related clothing and laundry expenses this year.

So if like us, you need to brush up your claim knowledge read on.

What clothes you can claim

According to the ATO’s website, you can claim a deduction for the exact cost of the following:

  • Occupation-specific clothing
  • Protective clothing
  • Work uniforms
  • Cleaning of work clothing

So that covers everything, right? Well, not exactly. The rules on what you can and can’t claim from your wardrobe are actually quite strict.

So for instance, occupation-specific clothing means things like chequered pants for chefs – something that would look out-of-place if worn outside of the kitchen. But the waiters at that same restaurant cannot claim the black pants they’re told to wear to work – because black pants can be worn just about anywhere.

Protective clothing relates only to the clothes and footwear you wear to protect yourself from illness or injury, including fire-resistant and sun-protection clothing, safety-coloured vests and non-slip nurse’s shoes. The key here is that the clothes must provide a specific protection – so a long shirt worn to protect you from the sun doesn’t count – nor do regular closed-toe shoes.

You can of course, claim your specific, distinct work uniform (so yes if it has a logo) but it has to be a compulsory part of your uniform (unless the design has been registered with AusIndustry).


On top of this, you can claim the cleaning costs of the above, but you’ll need written evidence (if you’re home-washing, a diary entry will do) if your claim is more than $150.

And if you don’t have written evidence, you’ll need to use this formula to work out the costs: $1 per load of uniform, and 50 cents per load if other laundry items are included.

What you can’t claim

Oh, just about everything. Sorry – but not a whole lot.

For instance, you might work at a cafe that requires you to wear a white shirt and black pants (that you supply yourself). That isn’t covered.

And that also means even if you’d never be caught dead in those practical, comfy court shoes outside of the office, you still can’t claim them. Likewise that one-piece you wear as a swimming instructor.

The key thing to keep in mind isn’t whether you bought the item specifically to wear to work, but if wearing that item outside of the office is unreasonable. If it’s not unreasonable (because there’s no M for McDonald’s on it), then you can’t claim it.

And this means that you can’t claim the associated cleaning costs.

But the good news is that if you have a work bag instead of a suitcase – and you have the receipt if you’re claiming more than $150 – you can claim the costs.

Just keep it reasonable – no one’s going to buy that Louis Vuitton clutch is your workbag.

For further clarification on anything relating to your tax return, visit the ATO website.