Are Uniform Expenses for Work Tax Deductible?

Updated on January 10, 2024

At a Glance

  • Uniform expenses are generally not tax deductible for most employees under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017.
  • Exceptions include armed forces reservists, professional performers, and certain state and local government officials.
  • Proper documentation and record-keeping are important for those eligible to claim uniform expense deductions.
  • It’s crucial to stay informed about the latest tax legislation and seek professional advice if unsure about eligibility for work-related deductions.

Many professions require employees to wear specific uniforms while on the job. Before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017, workers could potentially deduct the cost of purchasing and maintaining uniforms as unreimbursed employee expenses—if such clothing was not suitable for everyday wear and was required for work. However, the TCJA brought significant changes to the deductibility of work-related expenses. Here’s a look at the current status of uniform expense deductions under IRS guidelines.

Changes to Deductions for Employee Expenses

With the TCJA in effect, the deduction for unreimbursed employee expenses, which included uniforms, has been suspended for tax years 2018 through 2025 for most taxpayers. Prior to the TCJA, employees could deduct these expenses as miscellaneous itemized deductions if they exceeded 2% of the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income (AGI).

Uniform Expenses and the TCJA

As a result of the suspension:

  • Individual taxpayers are currently unable to deduct the costs associated with work uniforms as they fall under unreimbursed employee expenses.
  • The suspension applies to other work-related expenses, such as costs for tools, professional dues, and work-related education.

Exceptions: Certain Occupations and Situations

While most employees can no longer deduct uniform expenses, there are exceptions where deductions are still possible:

  • Armed Forces Reservists: Members of the Armed Forces reserve components can still deduct unreimbursed travel expenses, including uniform costs if they travel more than 100 miles from home to perform their services.
  • Professional Performers: Qualified performing artists may still deduct the cost of work-specific attire as an above-the-line deduction if they meet the IRS’s income criteria and other conditions.
  • Certain State and Local Government Officials: Elected officials paid on a fee basis and certain state or local government workers may also be exempt from these restrictions.

The IRS provides detailed information on these exceptions in IRS Publication 529, Miscellaneous Deductions.

Claiming Deductions for Eligible Taxpayers

If you fall into one of the categories that allow for the deduction of uniform expenses:

  • You can claim these costs as adjustments to income on Form 1040, without needing to itemize deductions.
  • Complete the appropriate forms relating to your specific exemption, which could include:
  • Form 2106: For reservists, qualified performing artists, and fee-basis state or local government officials, if applicable.
  • Schedule 1 (Form 1040): To adjust gross income if you’re eligible to claim above-the-line deductions.

Documentation and Record Keeping

If you’re eligible to deduct the cost of your work uniform, proper record-keeping is critical. You should retain:

  • Purchase receipts for the uniform and related expenses.
  • Records of professional cleaning costs.
  • Any documentation that verifies the requirement to wear the uniform for work purposes.

Final Thoughts

Most employees are no longer able to deduct the costs of work uniforms due to changes in tax law under the TCJA. However, for individuals in specific occupations or with unique work situations, the possibility of tax deductions for these expenses remains, albeit with certain restrictions.

It’s important to keep up to date with the latest tax legislation by visiting the IRS website and to seek professional advice if you’re unsure about your eligibility for work-related deductions. Additional help can be found via resources like USA.gov’s Taxes page, which provides guidance on a range of tax subjects.

Understanding the nuances of the tax code can help ensure you take full advantage of any potential deductions available for work-related expenses, such as uniforms. As you prepare your tax return, reviewing the criteria and maintaining organized records will ensure that you comply with IRS regulations while minimizing your tax liability.

Learn More

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Are uniform expenses tax deductible under the TCJA?

No, uniform expenses are generally not tax deductible for most employees under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017.

Can armed forces reservists deduct the costs of their uniforms?

Yes, armed forces reservists can still deduct unreimbursed travel expenses, including uniform costs if they travel more than 100 miles from home to perform their services.

Can professional performers deduct the cost of their work-specific attire?

Yes, qualified performing artists may still deduct the cost of work-specific attire as an above-the-line deduction if they meet the IRS’s income criteria and other conditions.

Are there any exceptions for state and local government officials?

Yes, elected officials paid on a fee basis and certain state or local government workers may also be exempt from the restrictions on uniform expense deductions.

How can eligible taxpayers claim deductions for uniform expenses?

Eligible taxpayers can claim these costs as adjustments to income on Form 1040, without needing to itemize deductions. They may need to complete Form 2106 or Schedule 1 (Form 1040) depending on their specific exemption.

What documentation and record-keeping is important for claiming uniform expense deductions?

Eligible taxpayers should retain purchase receipts for the uniform and related expenses, records of professional cleaning costs, and any documentation that verifies the requirement to wear the uniform for work purposes.

Where can I find more information on these exceptions?

The IRS provides detailed information on these exceptions in IRS Publication 529, Miscellaneous Deductions.

No, under the TCJA, the deduction for other work-related expenses, such as costs for tools and work-related education, has also been suspended for most taxpayers.

How long will the suspension of uniform expense deductions be in effect?

The suspension of uniform expense deductions is in effect for tax years 2018 through 2025 for most taxpayers.

Where can I find more information about taxes and deductions?

You can visit the IRS website or resources like USA.gov‘s Taxes page for guidance on a range of tax subjects.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.