Dear Tax Talk,
My husband is required to purchase his own hand tools for his job, as well as steel-toe boots, safety glasses, long sleeve shirts and thick jeans (not anything he’d wear outside of work.) Are these items tax deductible? If so, is a sales receipt enough for the IRS or do I need proof that his employer does not provide these items?
— Colleen

Dear Colleen,
Many employers require employees to wear protective clothing and purchase their own hand tools, hard hats and safety glasses. In your situation, the hand tools, steel-toe boots and safety glasses are deductible as a miscellaneous itemized deduction on Schedule A.

As far as the long sleeve shirts and thick jeans go, the IRS allows you to deduct the cost of work clothing, but only if your employer requires it and additionally if it is not suitable for wear outside of work. Long sleeve shirts and thick jeans would not qualify, as they are suitable for everyday wear. Workers who are required to buy special uniforms, such as security guards, are allowed to deduct the cost of the uniforms. If an employee is required to purchase clothing that has the logo of the company on it, these too are tax deductible. Additionally, workers who are required to wear special protective attire such as fire retardant outerwear are allowed to deduct this cost.

Miscellaneous itemized deductions are only deductible to the extent that they exceed 2 percent of your adjusted gross income, so be sure that you are better off itemizing your deductions rather than taking the standard deduction.

Records such as receipts, canceled checks and other documents that support your deductions generally should be kept for three years from the date you filed the return or its due date, whichever is later. The IRS record-keeping requirement does not require that you provide proof that the employer does not provide these items; however, if you have that information, you should also keep that with your other tax records.

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