Unlike our Aussie neighbours, the New Zealand Inland Revenue Department has very strict rules on what you can and can't claim when it comes to clothing and personal presentation expenses. You might think the justification for why you should be able to claim it is legitimate but unless it falls into the below categories, unfortunately you are out of luck.

Below are guidelines on claiming clothing and personal expenses:

Claimable:

  1. Items of clothing for health and safety and protective purposes including high-visibility vests, waterproof pants, protective eye wear, overalls, steel capped boots, gloves, masks, surgical scrubs, hard hats. The general rule of thumb is they are not items of normal apparel that you would ordinarily wear.
  2. Uniforms and clothing that advertises your business ie with a logo and name – hats, jackets, t-shirts etc. If your business name is on it, it becomes claimable.

Not claimable:

  1. Any regular clothing that is not a uniform or doesn't advertise your business. That means suits for business meetings are out, as is gym gear for a personal trainer. Likewise, you might be in the hospitality field and need a certain class and style of clothing. It doesn't matter how necessary it is, if it doesn't fall within the rules above, it is not claimable.
  2. Dry cleaning – this is only deductible if it is for uniforms.
  3. Glasses, even though you might need to wear them to be able to see well enough to do your job, they are still considered personal and not claimable. Same applies for hearing aids.
  4. Haircuts – again, many many jobs require a certain level of presentation but again, haircuts are personal, and you can't claim them.
  5. Gym membership – sorry, stuck record but no, not claimable.

To quote the IRD, claimable clothing "only includes uniforms or specialist clothing that isn't reasonably suitable for private use and is necessary and peculiar to a particular occupation.

Finally, in close, consider the possible consequences of flouting the law. One personal trainer was given home detention and hundreds of hours community work for claiming exercise clothing (among other things) as a business expense. The case against this trainer involved tax evasion beyond just the clothing but it is a timely reminder of the importance of sticking within the rules.

If you are unsure and would like more guidance on this area, in particular how you can legitimately claim clothing expenses, please contact us today for assistance.