This is a common question asked by clients, and rightly so for those of you that don’t deal in tax law for a living. For a normal person, the answer to this question appears obvious. Your boss asks you to be clean shaven every day for work, you can’t wear your work respirator without it and it’s even in your work contract. So it should be tax deductible, right? Wrong!
No one has ever taken the Australian Tax Office to court over not being able to claim shavers as a tax deduction. There have, however, been some cases on haircuts, which give us an indication of how the courts and the Tax Office view these types of expenses.
Perhaps the most popular is AAT Case U217 87 ATC 1216 where a police officer tried to claim a portion of his hair cut expenses because it was a condition of his employment that he keep his hair short. Regardless of the fact that he only wanted to claim 50 percent against his work related income, the AAT found that the expense was private in nature and therefore not tax deductible.
In Case L61 79 ATC 488; 23 CTBR (NS) Case 73, an army officer tried to argue a similar case, claiming he was required to be well groomed for work, and therefore he should be entitled to claim a tax deduction for his haircuts. The expense was found to be private in nature.
In Case 72/96 96 ATC 640, a television newsreader tried to claim a deduction for hairdressing, clothing and makeup purchased for use on camera. Once again the claim was denied on the basis that these expenses were of a private nature.
At the end of the day, razors, shaving cream, haircuts and makeup are generally seen as private in nature and are not tax deductible expenses. In limited circumstances, stage actors or performing artists can claim some of these expenses and you can read about that here. If you’re considering making a claim for any of these items, then I suggest submitting a private binding ruling with the Australian Taxation Office. See my article on Private Rulings.
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