Archive for August, 2009
Last week we looked at work clothing, whereby a uniform may be compulsory or non compulsory. With compulsory uniforms you can claim the cost of buying and maintaining those uniforms. With non compulsory uniforms each case is treated on its merits.
Protective clothing is different in that in the main it is tax deductible, an example would be steel capped boots or wet weather gear worn when using chemicals or high pressure hoses. Sun glasses, sun screen and hats are protective clothing for outdoor workers and other taxpayers required to spend part of their day out of the office. The ATO have advised that drill trousers, shorts, shirts and conventional footwear such as sports shoes and joggers are not considered protective clothing, they are of a private nature.
Protective clothing is the clothing and footwear that you wear to protect yourself from the risk of illness or injury posed by your income earning activities or the environment in which you are required to carry them out. To be considered protective the items must provide a sufficient degree of protection against that risk. Examples of protective clothing include: fire resistant and sun protective clothing; safety coloured vests; non slip nurses shoes; rubber boots for concreters; steel capped boots; gloves; overalls; and heavy duty shirts and trousers.
The tax office also considers that dust coats, smocks and aprons you wear to avoid damage or soiling to your ordinary clothes during the course of your income earning activities to be protective clothing. Ordinary clothes such as jeans, drill shirts and shorts, trousers and socks that lack protective qualities designed for the risks of your work are not protective clothing.
For more information about claiming a deduction for expenses associated with your work related clothing you could refer to Tax Rulings TR 94/22; TR 97/12; TR 2003/13 and tax determination TD 1999/62. Reading of these publications is also a cure for insomnia.
The tax Office has gone to print in order to assist taxpayers in identifying what is or is not Work Clothing. This is an attempt to guide taxpayers and to take the guess work out of claiming legitimate expenses in tax returns.
Work Uniforms can either be compulsory or non compulsory. If the uniform is compulsory then you may be able to claim for a single item of distinctive clothing such as a jumper, if it is compulsory for you to wear it at work. You cannot claim expenses incurred for non compulsory work uniforms, unless your employer has registered the design with Ausindustry. Check with your employer who should be able to confirm this information for corporate wear at www.ausindustry.gov.au. Shoes, sock and stockings can never form part of a non compulsory work uniform, and neither can a single item such as a jumper.
Generally, you cannot claim a deduction for the cost of purchasing or cleaning a plain uniform or conventional clothing worn at work, even if your employer tells you to wear them, as this is deemed a private expense.
According to the ATO, if you receive an allowance from your employer for clothing, uniforms, laundry or dry cleaning you cannot automatically claim a deduction. Clothing expenses you can claim are related to compulsory uniforms comprising a set of clothing that, when worn, identifies you as an employee of a specific organisation having a strictly enforced policy that makes it compulsory for you to wear the uniform whilst at work.
You may be able to claim a deduction for shoes, socks and stockings where they are an essential part of this distinctive compulsory uniform, the characteristic of which are stated in your employer’s uniform policy.
You may also claim for a single item of distinctive clothing, such as a jumper, where it is compulsory for you to wear it at work. Generally clothing is distinctive where it has the employer’s logo permanently attached and the clothing is not available to the general public.
If you wear a non compulsory uniform you cannot claim for stockings, short socks or shoes as these items cannot be registered as part of a non compulsory uniform. Your employer can tell you if your uniform or wardrobe is registered. If your employer requires you to wear a distinctive uniform or wardrobe, but does not enforce the wearing of the uniform, the design of the uniform must be registered before you can claim a deduction.
You can claim a deduction for the cost of occupation specific clothing, eg checked pants worn by chefs. The clothing would be specific to your occupation and is not everyday in nature. It is unlikely that a building worker would have occupation specific clothing.
More next week on protective clothing.