Uniforms & Protective Clothing

You can claim the cost of buying, renting, repairing and cleaning occupation-specific clothing, protective clothing and certain work uniforms.

You cannot claim the cost of purchasing or cleaning a plain uniform or clothes you bought to wear for work that are not protective or specific to your occupation, even if your employer tells you to wear them. For example, a bartender’s black trousers and white shirt or a manager’s suit or stockings.

You cannot automatically claim a deduction simply because you received a uniform, clothing, laundry or dry-cleaning allowance from your employer.

What you may need

  • Written evidence from your goods or services supplier;
  • Diary records of your laundry costs (if you need written evidence – refer below).

Work uniform

Work uniform is a uniform, either compulsory or non-compulsory, that is unique and distinctive to the organisation that you work for. Clothing is unique if it has been designed and made only for the employer. Clothing is distinctive if it has the employer’s logo permanently attached and the clothing with the logo is not available to the public.

Compulsory work uniform

This is a set of clothing that identifies you as an employee of an organisation which has a strictly enforced policy that makes it compulsory for you to wear the uniform while you are at work. You may be able to claim a deduction for shoes, socks and stockings where they are an essential part of a distinctive compulsory uniform, the characteristics of which (colour, style, and type) are specified in your employer’s uniform policy. 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.

Non-compulsory work uniform

You cannot claim expenses incurred for non-compulsory work uniforms unless your employer has registered the design with AusIndustry – check with your employer. Shoes, socks and stockings can never form part of a non-compulsory work uniform, and neither can a single item such as a jumper.

Occupation-specific clothing

This is clothing that is specific to your occupation, is not everyday in nature and would allow the public to easily recognise your occupation – for example, the checked pants a chef wears.

Protective clothing

This is 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-protection clothing
  • safety-coloured vests
  • non-slip nurse’s shoes
  • rubber boots for concreters
  • steel-capped boots, gloves, overalls, and heavy duty shirts and trousers.

The ATO also consider that overalls, smocks and aprons you wear to avoid damage or soiling to your ordinary clothes during the course of your income-earning activities are 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.

Working out your claim for Laundry expenses

For washing, drying and ironing you did yourself, the ATO considers that a reasonable basis for working out your laundry claim would be $1 per load – this includes washing, drying and ironing (if the load was made up only of the clothes described above), and 50 cents per load if other laundry items were included. If you choose a different basis to work out your claim, the ATO may ask you to explain that basis.

Written evidence

You must have written evidence – for example, diary entries and receipts – for your laundry expenses if:

  • the amount of your claim is greater than $150, and
  • your total claim for work expenses exceeds $300 (not including car, meal allowance, award transport payments allowance and travel allowance expenses).

If you do not need to provide written evidence for your laundry expenses, you may use a reasonable basis to work out your claim.

Dry-cleaning expenses

You can claim the cost of dry-cleaning eligible work clothes. You must have written evidence to substantiate your claim if your total claim for work expenses exceeds $300 (not including car, meal allowance, award transport payments allowance and travel allowance expenses).