Claiming for Clothing as a Business Expense

Is it possible to make an expense claim for clothing worn for business purposes? This is a much misunderstood topic, and one we will set out to try and demystify.

When you purchase clothing to wear for work, you may naturally assume that it is perfectly acceptable to put the bill through your company expense account and claim tax relief on it. After all, the clothing was for work. However, what you may assume is business workwear, and what HMRC classes as workwear are often very different.

The dual use rule

The fact is that some clothing can be claimed through the business, but only in certain circumstances. The key question to ask is whether the clothing is needed solely for business use.

HMRC does not allow claims for items that have a double use. So, if the clothing you have purchased for work can be used outside of work, then it is unlikely they will approve a claim.

For example, if you buy a suit to wear to a networking event, or a dress to wear to a business awards ceremony, HMRC will take the view that these are items of clothing that you could wear for personal engagements. They would therefore not approve a claim for such items.

Claiming for branded clothing

If however you purchased branded items of clothing, such as t-shirts and jackets, all sporting your business logo, then these would likely be passable as claim material. The branding would however need to permanent, i.e. it could not be a removable badge, and the branding would need to be visible, in other words not a tiny logo that could barely be seen or that was hidden under a lapel.

If you purposely bought clothing in a certain colour to match your branding, this would not count. Say for example you bought your team matching purple shirts; although these fit with your brand colouring, the fact is they could in theory be worn outside of work.

Claiming for costumes

Performers are able to claim for costumes, but again only if there is no way they could be worn off the job. So a pantomime horse costume for example would be passable, but a singer’s tuxedo would not.

Claiming for uniforms

There is often confusion over the definition of uniforms too. HMRC defines a uniform as a set of specialised clothing recognisable as identifying someone in a particular occupation. So for example this would be the likes of firefighters, police officers, ambulance crew and nurses.

A uniform does not apply to clothing of a similar design or colour. So if you stipulate that your workforce must wear black trousers and blue shirts, this does not count as a uniform.

Personal protective equipment

Personal protective equipment (PPE) applies to anything issued to protect the health and safety of personnel. Clothing wise, this could cover things like high-visibility vests, coveralls, flame retardant jackets, chainsaw suits and steel toecap boots. Clearly these are all items of clothing specific to the job in hand, and would not be worn outside of work, so would be acceptable to HMRC. Thermal vests or hosiery however purchased to wear outside on cold days would unlikely be passable.

Need help with business expense claims?

At Office Assistants we have been helping limited companies with a range of bookkeeping tasks for several years. Ensuring expense claims are legitimate is one of our areas of expertise. It is important to ensure all tax returns are accurate so that HMRC is kept on side.

If you would like to learn more about how we can assist your business, you are welcome to get in touch.

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