What business clothes can I include in my expenses?
QUESTION: I work as a consultant in a specialist and high risk sector and I wear my own protective clothing when I am visiting manufacturing plants. Am I allowed to claim the cost of these clothes that I wear to work?
ANSWER: The purchase of general clothing is not an allowable deduction for tax, as it could be worn for non-work purposes - the fact that you may choose not to wear the clothing for non-work purposes is irrelevant. Therefore the only items of clothing that can be claimed for are those which fall into the categories of protective clothing and/or uniforms.
As you work in a specialist manufacturing sector, items such as steel capped boots, flourescent vests, hard hats, protective gloves and goggles could be claimed for, as could the cost of any overalls purchased.
Most clothes don't full under the category of wholly and exclusively as a business expense. HMRC uses the phrase 'everyday wardrobe' with regards to clothing expenses. Any clothing that could conceivably form part of your everyday wardrobe, i.e. could be worn outside of the work environment, is not allowed. It does not matter whether you do or don't actually wear the item outside work, what counts is whether you could.
Protective clothing required for your work such as high-vis vests, helmets, safety boots, overalls, trousers with padded knees etc. These type of items would normally be bought from a specialist supplier or builders merchant.
HMRC are a little cagey around clothing that has a company logo put on it. Fixing a permanent and conspicuous badge to what would otherwise be ordinary clothing may be enough to make it a uniform, but each case must be considered on its merits. If you do need some t-shirts, fleeces, jackets etc specifically for work, the safest option is to get them permanently and conspicuously logo'd. Ideally this will be allowable as a work uniform, but it could also be considered to be an advertising expense.
There are some additional complications for limited company directors, who are considered to be employees of the company. Clothing provided to employees is one of the items that should be reported on the annual P11D form as part of the company payroll process and it may be considered to be a personal taxable benefit.
If the company provides clothing it must be reported on the P11D whether allowable or not. The allowable clothing (uniform and protective clothing) is not taxed, but any other clothing is considered to be a taxable benefit to the value of the clothes purchased.
If you only provide allowable clothing you can apply for a dispensation from the P11D reporting via the P11Dx form.
:: Feargal McCormack (firstname.lastname@example.org) is managing partner of PKF-FPM (www.pkffpm.com). The advice in this column is specific to the facts surrounding the question posed. Neither the Irish News nor the contributors accept liability for any direct or indirect loss arising reliance placed on replies.