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The cost of upkeep and replacement of uniform and protective clothing from HMRC instructions to their Inspectors.

A deduction can be permitted for the cost of upkeep, replacement and repair of protective clothing or uniforms, see EIM32465, where the duties require it to be worn and the employee must bear the cost. If the expense is partly met by the employer, for example by an untaxed allowance in lieu of uniform, only the net cost to the employee is deductible. 

No deduction can be permitted for the cost of upkeep, replacement and repair of ordinary clothing. In the case of Ward v Dunn (52TC517) a surveyor was not permitted a deduction for the cost of wear and tear and cleaning his clothing, even though the nature of his job put him to abnormally large expense in this respect. The costs were not incurred wholly and exclusively in the performance of his duties, see EIM31660. 

Where the cost of upkeep of clothing is deductible you should allow a reasonable deduction for any necessary cost of cleaning that the employee actually incurs. This should not include notional amounts, for example an estimate of the employee's labour costs in carrying out the work at home. If the cleaning is carried out as part of the ordinary domestic wash the extra cost of cleaning work clothing should be small. EIM32485 suggests amounts that may be accepted as reasonable. 

If the employer provides protective clothing but does not provide facilities for its cleaning a similar deduction may be made. 

Flat rate expenses for cleaning costs have been negotiated for operatives in particular industries, see EIM32700. Flat rate expenses have been negotiated separately for nurses and other health care workers, see EIM67210 and EIM66790. Where there is a national agreement for a particular industry, a deduction can be allowed in the amounts outlined at EIM32712. The amounts suggested at EIM32485 are acceptable where there is not a national agreement in place. 

This guidance is illustrated by example EIM32481 and example EIM32482.

The leading case on clothing is Hillyer v Leeke (51TC90). Mr Hillyer was a computer engineer who was required by his manager to wear a suit and tie at work. He only wore his suit and tie at work and they suffered excessive wear and tear as a result of the nature of his duties. It was held in the High Court that no deduction was due for the cost of the clothing.

The cost of the clothing was not incurred wholly and exclusively in the performance of Mr Hillyer's duties, see EIM31660. At the same time as he was wearing the clothing for work it was also meeting his need for warmth and decency. 

It could not be said that warmth and decency were merely incidental to the business purpose of the clothing, see EIM31664. Both purposes were inextricably intermingled. 

The cost of the clothing could not be apportioned to take account of the wear and tear suffered at work. There is no part of the cost of the clothing that can be identified as incurred exclusively in the performance of the duties, see EIM31661. 

The fact that the employer required Mr Hillyer to wear particular clothing did not help his case. Goulding J commented that: 

"the employee has to wear something and the nature of his job dictates what that something will be." 

Many jobs require clothing of a particular type. For example, outdoor workers may require warm clothing while other workers may require lightweight clothing. There are also jobs for which the employee is required to be particularly smart. The fact that particular clothing may be necessary to carry out a particular job does not make the cost of that clothing deductible. This is illustrated by examples EIM32460 and EIM32461. 

Similarly the fact that the clothing was only worn at work was immaterial. There was no necessity to restrict his wearing of it to his working hours. 

A deduction is permitted for the cost of certain specialist clothing, see EIM32465. 

The Courts have recognised that there may be exceptions to the general rule that the cost of clothing is not deductible. 

The rules for computing taxable business profits contain a similar rule that expenses must be incurred wholly and exclusively for a business purpose. In the Trading Income case of Caillebotte v Quinn (50TC222) Templeman J commented that:

"the cost of protective clothing worn in the course of carrying on a trade will be deductible, because warmth and decency are incidental to the protection necessary to the carrying on of the trade.

In the same way a deduction can be permitted from earnings for the cost of protective clothing, see EIM32470. In the case of Hillyer v Leeke (51TC90) Goulding J recognised that the cost of clothing could be deductible where the clothing is:

"of a special character dictated by the occupation as a matter of physical necessity."

We also accept that specialist clothing can include clothing that is a uniform or part of a uniform, see EIM32475. 

A deduction can only be permitted where the employee must provide the specialist clothing at his or her own expense

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