We all have them, clothes that we wear almost exclusively for work. The skirt that is too long for the weekend or the blazer that is too officey for a wedding. We don't want to buy these things but we need them for work… so can we deduct them for tax purposes? Well, unfortunately the simple and most common answer is “no”. Let me explain…
If you are an employee, you cannot deduct the cost of any clothes, not even your uniform, against your income. You also cannot get a credit for it (more on deductions vs credits later). The way the government makes it up to us is by having the Canada Employment Amount Deduction, which for most people is $1,146. So if you earned $50,000 last year, this deduction would reduce your taxable income to $48,584. This means that $1,146 of your income will not be taxed. So, if you earned about $50,000 you would save about $340 thanks to this deduction. (That’s not my annual work clothes budget, but oh well)
The Canada Employment amount is meant to make up for expenses like clothing, uniforms, use of home computer and other small supplies that are not covered by our employers. However, since the benefit is capped at $1,146 the increase in savings will only change based on the different tax brackets you could fall into. It could be as low as 0 and as high as about $560.
If you are self employed, you can expense the cost of uniforms only (sort of, can be capitalized in class 12 and then amortized at 100%). But sorry, a suit is not a uniform, as much as it sometimes feels like it. Please be careful with this one, only clothing that can clearly only be worn to work will qualify, so unless your suit has your company logo stitched on the front, this will not really help. Trust me, people have tried including office clothes and almost every time the CRA has ruled against this.
So what can we do? What I try to do is buy as many dual-wear pieces as possible. I know not every profession will permit this but if you just have to dress business casual, believe me, there are many options! Here are a few of my favourite items that I find I wear equally as often to work as I do after work and on the weekend!