Another Tax Question - Regarding Deductions and Itemizing

Have tax question - but before I ask it I would like to assure everyone that I have already done my taxes and received my refund, this does not apply to me, this is strictly me trying to find a definitive answer to a question that was being debated at the bar the other day and since I will be going there later today, I’d like a real answer.

Here’s the situation: Someone works at a Walgreen’s Store and works at the cosmetics counter - is the cost of their cosmetics deductible - the person was going under the assumption that if it is necessary for their job, similar to being able to deduct cost of uniforms/special shoes, etc. Let’s say it isn’t a Walgreen’s Store but - oh - a real upscale cosmetics store? Would it be deductible then especially if they required you to buy THEIR really expensive brand?

The answer to your question depends on whether the cosmetics are considered to be part of the uniform or work tools/supplies.

The cost of uniforms for work are only deductible if they are required and are not suitable for everyday use. Based on that standard, if the cosmetics are part of the uniform, it is doubtful that a deduction for the cost of cosmetics would be deductible for someone who works at a cosmetics counter (regardless of whether the cosmetics counter is at Walgreens or Barneys) because cosmetics are suitable for everyday use.

On the other hand, if cosmetics are work tools or supplies, the cost would be deductible (if they are expected to last longer than a year, depreciation is required).

Authority: IRS Publication 529

I am not a tax expert but here are a couple of things to consider. I will be surprised if you get a black-and-white answer if this specific situation has not been tested in the courts.

Clothing required for a job is deductible (page is a mess, scroll **way ** down to see the text) if it is not otherwise appropriate for daily street wear. One could apply the same test to find that clown make-up would be deductible but cosmetics bought at a drug store would not be.

Also note that if allowable (and I don’t think it is), this falls under the category of Miscellaneous Deductions, and the only portion of such a deduction that would be allowable would be that portion that exceeds 2% of gross income (see same link). So if you assume that it’s even deductible (and I don’t think it is) a Clinique employee who earns say $40,000 a year and spends $1,000 a year on cosmetics could deduct $200.

Thank you very much!!