Can A Sole Proprietor Write Off Clothes?

  • John A. Osborne
  • Jan 22, 2023
Small Business Insurance Oregon

As a sole proprietor, you may be wondering if you can write off clothes as a business expense. It’s a common question, and the answer is not as straightforward as you might think. The IRS has specific rules when it comes to deducting clothing expenses, and it’s essential to understand them to avoid any potential tax issues.

Before we dive into the details, let’s take a closer look at what a sole proprietor is and what types of expenses they can write off.

What is a Sole Proprietor?

A sole proprietorship is a business structure where an individual owns and operates their business. This type of business is not a separate legal entity from the owner, which means the owner is personally liable for all business debts and obligations. Sole proprietors do not have to file a separate tax return for their business income, and their income is reported on their personal tax return.

What Business Expenses Can a Sole Proprietor Write Off?

Sole proprietors can deduct business expenses that are ordinary and necessary for their business. These expenses must be directly related to the operation of the business and must be reasonable in amount. Examples of deductible business expenses include:

  • Office rent and utilities
  • Employee wages and benefits
  • Equipment and supplies
  • Marketing and advertising costs
  • Travel expenses
  • Professional fees, such as legal and accounting services

Can a Sole Proprietor Write Off Clothes?

Now let’s get to the main question at hand, can a sole proprietor write off clothes? The answer is, it depends. The IRS has specific rules when it comes to deducting clothing expenses, and the rules vary depending on the type of clothing.

Uniforms and Protective Clothing

If you own a business that requires employees to wear uniforms or protective clothing, you can deduct the cost of these items as a business expense. This includes items such as:

  • Hospital scrubs and lab coats
  • Police and firefighter uniforms
  • Construction worker safety gear

It’s important to note that the clothing must be specifically required for the job, and it cannot be worn outside of work. For example, a police officer’s uniform is deductible, but a suit worn by a salesperson is not.

Non-Uniform Clothing

If you are a sole proprietor and you do not require employees to wear uniforms or protective clothing, you may still be able to deduct the cost of certain non-uniform clothing items. These items must meet the following criteria:

  • The clothing must be necessary for your business
  • The clothing must not be suitable for everyday wear
  • The clothing must not be worn outside of work

Examples of deductible non-uniform clothing items include:

  • Specialized work boots or shoes
  • Lab coats for researchers or scientists
  • Clothing with company logos or branding

What Clothing Expenses are Not Deductible for Sole Proprietors?

There are certain clothing expenses that are not deductible for sole proprietors. These include:

  • Clothing that is suitable for everyday wear, such as a suit or dress
  • Clothing that is not required for the job
  • Clothing that can be worn outside of work


In conclusion, as a sole proprietor, you can write off clothing expenses, but it depends on the type of clothing and how it’s used in your business. Uniforms and protective clothing are generally deductible, while non-uniform clothing items must meet specific criteria to be deductible. It’s essential to keep accurate records and receipts to support your deductions and consult with a tax professional if you have any questions or concerns.