“I’ve bought a new outfit that I’m only going to wear for work – this must be a business expense?”
I hear this all the time but unfortunately HMRC may not agree with you as to what constitutes “workwear”.
So what are the rules?
HMRC will not let you claim any clothing that has dual use – eg that could be worn both personally and for your business. So you may live 24-7 in jeans, and buy one “work outfit” to go to client meetings and networking events in, but HMRC are not going to let you claim the cost of it through your business, as you could very easily also wear it outside work. The fact you don’t is irrelevant.
If your clothing is visibly and permanently branded with your company logo, then HMRC will accept that it is only worn for business purposes and let you claim the cost (think branded polo shirts/fleeces etc)
The branding does have to be both clearly visible and permanent – so a badge won’t work, nor will a tiny label sewn or written on areas not generally seen!! (yes I have had a client try this one)
Nor will buying a green jacket, just because your company colours are green!
Safety wear and protective clothing
If you need safety wear or protective clothing for your business, then you can claim this. But we are talking high viz jackets, steel capped boots, hard hats etc. Buying a super warm jacket because you work outside a lot may protect you from the cold, but HMRC would not consider it a business cost. You are quite likely to wear this walking the dog as well, so it has dual use.
Uniform or costumes?
Police, nurses uniform etc – yes (assuming this is your profession 😊)
White shirt and navy skirt because that’s what you are expected to wear – no.
“Sensible” shoes is one that people like to try to claim – if you are on your feet all day you are going to want comfortable shoes, but HMRC are unlikely to let you claim these, as again they have dual use, even if you wouldn’t be seen dead in them outside work.
Another common one is gym kit for personal trainers, yoga instructors etc. Although you will have to purchase more of this than the rest of us, it still has dual use and therefore can’t be claimed.
So there is generally very little scope to claim any “workwear” as a business cost, which I agree in some circumstances may seem unfair!
For any further information or help with your accounts, please contact Rosie Forsyth at Wilkins & Co