Taxation Ruling 96/18 deals with make-up and other personal grooming expenses. The Tax Office view regarding make-up is in paragraph 5:
As a general rule, expenditure on cosmetics, personal care and grooming is private in nature and not deductible.
This ruling then goes on to talk about a case known as Mansfield’s Case (Mansfield v. FC of T 96 (ATC 4001; (1996)31 ATR 367 ). This particular case was ground breaking and you will often see it referred to on the Tax Office website. The case involved a flight attendant who was required to be well-groomed by her employer. The flight attendant not only wanted to claim her make-up as a tax deduction, but also her hair cuts and hair styling products. The judge stated the following:
‘Even if make-up as such is required by the airline as an incident of the employment, I am presently of the view that make-up retains an essential personal characteristic which excludes it from deductibility.’
Not surprisingly the judge also denied the flight attendants claim for hair styling products and hair cuts.
So when will make-up be tax deductible?
If you’re an actor, variety artist, singer, dancer or circus performer, then the cost of your stage make-up may be tax deductible. TR 96/18 uses the following example:
Alan is an entertainer. As part of his act he portrays himself as an aged person. Alan wishes to claim a deduction for the stage make-up and make-up remover he uses to make himself appear older than he actually is. Alan would be allowed a deduction for the cost of the stage make-up used while he is playing the role of the aged person as part of his act.
This view by the Tax Office is also reiterated in Taxation Ruling 95/20 which talks about tax deductions for performing artists. Paragraph 109 states:
A deduction is allowable for the cost of make-up, including cleansing materials to remove stage make-up.
The key to note here is that stage make-up is special and can be distinguished from normal every day make-up. Generally you wouldn’t wear your stage make-up out shopping and here lies the point. It really is restricted to on-stage and, therefore, directly linked to an actor or performing artists job.
For occupations such as models, television presenters or off stage actors, unless your make-up is special stage make-up or has some other distinguishing feature, you generally won’t be allowed a tax deduction. TR 95/20 uses the following example:
Sophie is an actress in a television series. She has regular hair styling and beauty treatments to present a well-groomed image to the public. These costs relate to Sophie’s personal care and are private and not allowable.
At the end of the day, Mansfield’s and other case-law has shown that generally for most occupations, regular conventional make-up will not be tax deductible regardless of the fact that your employer may require you to wear it at work. If the make-up has an additional element such as stage make-up then it may be considered tax deductible.
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