Are Work Boots Tax Deductible?
Did you know work boots are actually tax deductible in some situations? Believe it or not, they can be. Granted, there are certain conditions that have to be met, but your work boots absolutely can be itemized.
However, there are some very specific conditions that have to be met. You can't deduct a pair of work boots if you work in an office, and you can't deduct the cost of shirts just because the dress code is business casual.
And it's actually not the easiest deduction to claim.
So, how can work boots be tax deductible? Here's how…
Work Boots Have To Be Required By Your Employer
In most trades, there are some federal regulations (meaning OSHA) that require you to wear protective clothing and boots or shoes. Basically, all it says is employers have to require protective clothing or boots if there's a risk of something like stepping on a nail, electrical shock and so on.
However, a loose federal regulation does not make a tax deduction.
In order for you to deduct a pair of work boots, they have to be specifically required by your employer for work. In other words, they have to say that you have to purchase a pair of - let's say - steel toe boots to be on their job site, and you can't work for them without wearing them.
So the item in question - it could be steel toe boots or tools - has to be not only used for work, but you have to be required by your employer to supply it.
The Bad News? Your Work Boots Have To Be Unsuitable For Everyday Use
Claiming deductions for certain business expenses falls under a Section 179 deduction, covered under Publication 946 from the Internal Revenue Service. Per Section 179, something you buy for business purposes is deductible if it:
Is not a consumable item, in that its service life will be more than one year.
Is not for personal use, or is only for partial personal use.
What this means as far as work boots and other equipment you might use in a trade is that there has to be a clear working purpose; it can't be an item that you buy for personal use and occasionally use for work.
A person who buys a piece of equipment for work can deduct the work-related portion of its cost.
So a person who buys a $500 pair of work boots, but 20 percent of the time is wearing them at home, can only deduct 80 percent of the cost of them or $400 of the $500 total. However, if you only wear them for work, then you can deduct the entire amount.
The idea is that things like protective equipment, tools and so on purchased for work have to be only for work; you can't buy normal clothes and deduct their cost just because your office has a dress code.
So you absolutely CAN deduct the expense of a pair of work boots...so long as they are required for work by your employer - which means it's absolutely a work expense - and they are entirely or mostly for work use.