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Clothing tax deductions are OK, but just in certain situations
Only leprechauns are allowed to write-off St. Patrick's Day green suits

Everybody puts on the dog for St. Patrick's Day, even sartorially conscious and/or wannabe Irish pooches.

Dog dolled up for St Patricks Day_Michael Shehan Obeysek via FlickrDog dolled up for St. Patrick's Day. Photo by Michael Shehan Obeysek via Flickr.

But the special green suit you bought just for today is not tax deductible unless being a leprechaun is your job.

Apparel is deductible as a miscellaneous itemized expense only if it is ordinary and necessary to your line of work.

Normal business attire doesn't apply: Before you get too jazzed about a possible new deduction in connection with your 9-to-5 at the cube farm, note that the Internal Revenue Service says general business attire doesn't count.

Just ask the television anchor who tried to write off almost $84,000 she spent on clothing over four tax years so that she'd look good on air.

Basically, if the dress or slacks or suit can be worn in any normal business office on any average work day, it's not special enough to warrant tax deductible status. The clothing simply is, according to the U.S. Tax Court ruling against the TV news reader, a nondeductible personal expense.

So what does the IRS find acceptable as a tax-deductible piece of apparel?

Generally, it is such things as uniforms required by an employer and which are not suitable for everyday use.

This could be the work shirt with your and your company's name on it that you must buy. It also could be the scrubs that your hospital job demands. 

Rules for real military duds: But this being the Internal Revenue Code, you know that there have to be some special considerations. In this case, they apply to actual military uniforms.

You generally cannot deduct the cost of your uniforms if you are on full-time active duty in the armed forces.

However, if you are an armed forces reservist, you can deduct the unreimbursed cost of your uniform if military regulations restrict you from wearing it except while on duty as a reservist. In figuring the deduction, you must reduce the cost by any nontaxable allowance you receive for these expenses.

If local military rules do not allow you to wear fatigue uniforms when you are off duty, you can deduct the amount by which the cost of buying and keeping up these uniforms is more than the uniform allowance you receive.

And civilian military educators, you're in tax luck. You can deduct the cost of your uniforms if you are a non-service-member faculty or staff member of a military school.

2 percent costs tally: If you do have to wear a special uniform, there's also a bit of good news about keeping it job ready. You get to claim the costs of maintaining your required workplace attire.

So keep track of laundry or dry cleaning expenses. These costs could help you claim the clothing deduction, since this Schedule A item requires you have expenses that are more than 2 percent of your adjusted gross income (AGI) before you can deduct them.

That means if 2 percent of your AGI is $500 and your deductible clothing and other miscellaneous expenses are $501 or more, then you have a deduction.

Every bit of allowable expenses to get other that deduction hurdle helps.

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