Can entertainers claim clothing as a work related tax deduction?

Can entertainers claim the clothing they wear to publicity events claim those items of clothing as a work related tax deduction? I’m thinking of the expensive designer clothing you often see entertainers wear to events such as the Oscars, Grammys, TV appeareances (i.e. David Letterman) and publicity tours. I think that some of these items of clothing (and definitely a lot of the jewelry) are donated / lent by the designers for a little free publicity but the entertainers probably buy some of the clothing.

What about clothing worn to charity events?

I was just curious because I got to thinking that an entertainer is expected to always dress fashionably. It must get really expensive to keep buying those designer duds. Now I know that many of them have piles of money, but it still seems like clothing could become a huge part of their budget.

They can always try, and I suspect they can claim the costs as a business expense. The IRS allows you to deduct almost anything on that basis as long as you can show some relationship, however tenuous, with your business.

For instance, as a writer, I can and do deduct my attendance at science fiction conventions – hotel, travel, a portion of my meals. They are primarily for fun, but I do enough business at them (for instance, at one a writer friend invited me to submit to an anthology, for which I got paid) to make them a legitimate deduction.

And you can be sure Hollywood stars have better accountants than I do. ")

Actually, the gist of the rule for clothing is that if it can conceivably be used for personal purposes, it cannot be written off. This came about because people were claiming suits and such like as business expenses - and an expensive suit can take quite a whack off someone’s income, much less a closet full.

galen’s remark backs up a vague recollection I have about reading a story about a singer who wanted to deduct some expensive dresses that she wore on stage. They were about to be disallowed until she demonstrated that she could not sit down in them.

So, I wonder if Bjork can claim that swan dress as a tax deduction? I’m pretty sure she won’t be wearing that again.

Johnny Carson was called on deducting the sports coats he wore on the Tonight show. He demonstrated that they did not have functional side pockets (just flaps) and got the deduction.

I remember Liberace on the Merv Griffin show (OK, it was a while ago) talking about the arguments he had with the IRS about this issue. The IRS was claiming he could use the clothes in his personal life, too, which got a laugh out of the audience. So that corroborates others’ claims that the test is whether you can use them for non-business uses.

My girlfriend is a LIMO DRIVER and she claims her clothes, which are just like office worker clothes. They haven’t caught up with her yet, but when they do, sheeeel have some 'splaining tooo dooo…

Stevie Nicks used this ploy. She also claimed that she entertained so… um… energetically that the clothes couldn’t be worn more than once, so she needed dozens of cool gypsy outfits for each tour!

Well, in ANY job, if you have to provide and pay for your own uniform, the money you spend is tax deductible, and so is the money you have to pay for dry cleaning, etc. So, bus drivers, policemen, waiters, security guards or janitors can deduct the cost of their uniforms, if their employers don’t pay for them.

Since MANY limousine drivers have to wear uniforms, it’s likely that when Kitty’s friend claimed a deduction for her work clothes, the IRS auditor saw no reason to question her deduction.

Show business, of course, provides some challenges for IRS auditors. In some cases, the answer is obviously “Yes, that’s deuctible.” A professional dancer who has to buy her own tutus or leotards can almost certainly deduct them as a legitimate expense.

David Copperfield can probably claim his capes and top hats as legitimate expenses, since they’re part of his magic act. But if he buys some flashy clothes to wear at parties, on the grounds that “I have an image to maintain,” those flashy clothes probaby WON’T be deductible.

If Cher pays a lot of money to Bob Mackey to design some weird outfits for her concert tour, that money probably IS a legitimate deduction. But if she buys such an outfit just to wear it at a party, it probably isn’t.

It all comes down to this: can you make a plausible case that these clothes are an integral part of your job, whether your job is entertaining people or mopping floors. When a janitor is required to wear a uniform, the cost of buying and cleaning that uniform is a deductible expense. But whe a janitor is NOT required to wear a uniform, when he’s allowed to wear what he pleases, the price of his t-shirt and jeans is NOT deductible. After all, he can wear them anywhere, not just to work.

Whatever happened to the claims of exotic dancers that their breast enhancements were business expenses that should be deductible?

So far no one has addressed one issue in the OP: Women’s gowns worn by the bigger stars to events like the Oscars™ are loaners. The designer gets a “This is a Donna WhoCaresan.” ad on E! in return.

Supposedly someone at the designer’s office should figure out the effective rental value of the gown and add it to some spreadsheets but I doubt anyone does this.

I used to hang out with a magician and he did deduct his stage tuxedoes all of which had pockets and many of which had hidden pockets particular to that line of work.

He deducted cost of suits as well as cots of custom tailoring for the hidden pockets. Of course these were pretty flashy tuxes so it wasn’t likely he would be wearing them in private.