No Clothing Deductions — Except for Dinah Shore

Your boss tells all employees they have to wear a blue suit and white shirt to the office every day. Since it’s a requirement, you may believe this is a deductible work expense. But that’s not the case. The IRS would argue that you can wear that blue suit and white shirt when you’re not at work, so no deduction.

Indeed, there’s a two-prong test for the deductibility of work clothes: Your company must require them and they have to be unsuitable for everyday wear. A required shirt with the company logo could be deemed as suitable only for work, so you would probably be able to deduct that.

Pushing the limits

Dinah Shore was a big band singer who later became a popular TV show hostess. She was known for her glamorous dresses — which she attempted to deduct as a business expense. The IRS disallowed the deductions, saying she could wear those fancy dresses on other occasions besides her TV show.

But Shore pointed out that those dresses were so tightly tailored she could not sit down in them; therefore, they were suitable only for her hosting duties. The IRS (perhaps grudgingly) reversed its decision and allowed the deductions. According to an unconfirmed account, however, the IRS actually sent an agent to the TV studio to make sure the dresses were in fact too tight to sit down in.

Of course, most of us won’t have to concern ourselves about the clothes we wear while on TV! However, this does show both the complexity of tax laws and the ways you can legally work around them. Be sure to keep track of your expenses — and work closely with a tax professional.

Reach out to Roz Carothers and her team at Triplett & Carothers to learn more.