Claiming for Clothing as a Business Expense

Claiming for clothing as a business expense is a handy way to reduce your tax bill, but the HMRC rules surrounding what you can and can’t expense are very strict. That’s because they want to keep things fair across everyone in the self-employed community.

In this guide, you’ll find out what clothes you can claim on your tax return along with examples to help you understand how the rules work.

I’ve updated this post 7 September 2021

1. Is Clothing Tax Deductible for the Self-Employed?

Clothing, just like any other allowable business expense, can only be claimed on your tax return if they are wholly and necessarily incurred for business purposes only. But when it comes to clothing, that can be confusing because we all have separate wardrobes for work and personal, even if that doesn’t include business suits. So what are the rules?

1.1 Everyday Clothing are Not a Business Expense

Even if you have to wear a suit or certain type of clothing to work, you cannot claim the cost of these outfits against your taxes. That’s because there could be occasions where you could wear those clothes for personal reasons. So if you work from home and choose to wear casual clothes all day, then you wouldn’t be able to claim for these as a business expense on your tax return.

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1.2 Branded Clothing are a Business Expense

If you wear clothing that is branded in your business name, then you can claim the cost of these clothes as a business expense.

1.3 Uniforms are a Business Expense

If you need to buy a uniform that is specifically required to do your job then you can claim the cost of this against your taxes, that’s people like self-employed beauticians and hairdressers.

1.4 Protective Clothing are a Business Expense

Like uniforms, protective clothing is also an allowable business expense. This applies to people who are self-employed CIS contractors that need things like:

  • Hard hats;
  • Steel toe boots;
  • Goggles.

1.5 Costumes are a Business Expense

If you have to wear a costume as part of your work, then this cost would be tax-deductible. The obvious examples are clowns but it also extends to any other types of entertainers like models and actors.

2. Claiming for Washing Work Clothes If You’re Self Employed?

You cannot claim the cost of washing your work clothes or uniform on your tax return. That’s because it is too difficult to come up with an amount or percentage that could be claimed as an expense that would be fair across everyone who is registered as self-employed. It’s also tricky to separate personal and business laundry to make a clear claim for work purposes, with business records.

These rules apply to the self-employed. Different rules apply when it comes to washing your uniform if you are employed in certain jobs, where you may be able to claim a tax rebate.

3. How to Claim for Clothing On Your Tax Return

You’ll need to claim the cost of allowable clothing in the self-employment section of your tax return. If your business turnover is less than £85,000 for 2021/2022 you’ll have the option to fill in the simplified version of this part of the tax return so only need to enter your total expenses. You’ll need to include your clothing claim in the figure you enter alongside your other allowable business expenses.

If your business turnover is more than £85,000 you’ll need to enter a breakdown of your expenses in the boxes set out by HMRC and you’ll need to include your business clothing in ‘other allowable business expenses‘.

How to Claim Clothing as a Business Expense On your Tax Return

Whatever your business turnover you should keep a note of what you are claiming for and how you worked it out as part of your business records, in case of an HMRC investigation and they ask for evidence of what you are claiming for to check you’ve paid the right amount of self-employed tax.

When it comes to claiming expenses, always use your judgement when it comes to deciding what you deduct against your taxes. Incorrect claims can result in penalties. And, as always, if you aren’t sure, seeks the advice of a professional.

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About Anita Forrest

Anita Forrest is a Chartered Accountant, spreadsheet geek, money nerd and creator of www.goselfemployed.co - the UK small business finance blog for the self-employed community. Here she shares simple, straight-forward guides to make self-employment topics like taxes, bookkeeping and banking easy to understand.