By Tolley in association with Philip Rutherford

The following Employment Tax guidance note by Tolley in association with Philip Rutherford provides comprehensive and up to date tax information covering:

  • Clothing
  • Introduction
  • Ordinary clothing
  • Uniforms
  • Specialist / protective clothing
  • Other costs
  • Reporting requirements


The nature of any employment may require an employee to be attired in particular clothing. The provision of clothing may give rise to a taxable benefit depending on the type of clothing provided. If an employee is required to purchase particular clothing in order to carry out his duties then he may also be entitled to a tax deduction in relation to the cost of those clothes. This relief is available under ITEPA 2003, s 336. See the Business expenses ― general rule guidance note. However the test is a strict one and the bar has been set high by case law, particularly in the case of clothing.

Ordinary clothing

It has long been held that a tax deduction cannot be claimed in relation to the cost of normal clothing. The leading case is Hillyer v Leeke in which an employee tried to claim a deduction for the cost of the suit his employer required him to wear to work. No deduction was allowed. Generally if clothing is capable of being both work and casual clothing then it does not qualify for a deduction.

Hillyer v Leeke (Inspector of Taxes) [1976] STC 490 (subscription sensitive)

Unless the type of clothing falls within one of the categories outlined below no tax deduction is available for the cost to the employee. Likewise if an employer provides a clothing allowance for ordinary clothing or provides the employee with clothes that allowance is taxable as ordinary earnings.

See Example 1.

HMRC guidance is at EIM32450 onwards.


Where an employer provides a uniform to an employee or part of a uniform then the employee is entitled to a full tax deduction for the cost of the uniform.

In order for the clothing to qualify as a uniform it should distinguish the

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