A compulsory work uniform is a uniform that the employer strictly enforces and makes compulsory for all employees to wear. The uniform must be distinctive, have the company logo and identify the employee with their place of work.
Examples of compulsory work uniforms include police uniforms, defence force uniforms, airline pilot uniforms, nurse uniforms, bank employee uniforms, etc.
In TD 1999/52 the ATO advised that compulsory work uniforms will be deductible if:
- Not available to be worn by the general public.
- The employer strictly and consistently enforces a policy that it is worn at work.
Taxpayers can only claim the cost of shoes, socks, belts and stockings if they are an essential part of the distinctive compulsory uniform and have characteristics specified in the employer’s uniform policy in relation to style, colour and type.
In contrast, non-compulsory uniforms are often encouraged by an employer, but not strictly enforced. As such, these uniforms will only deductible to an employee if the uniform is registered with AusIndustry. Employers can register non-compulsory uniforms at www.business.gov.au.
Normal business wear and conventional clothing is not deductible to an employee. This is the case even if the employer makes it compulsory for the employee to wear. For example, a legal firm may make all employees wear a suit to work.