Specialized clothing worn and paid by a pastor…a “business expense”? (2 of 3)

A pastor would like double-breasted, black suits for special television events. He did not wear these suits in his private life and he maintained the suits at his residence. The church did not pay for these suits, but the pastor incurred these costs and wants to know if this is a business expense, deductible in his personal tax return?

In Hynes v. Commissioner, 74 TC 1266, the taxpayer-petitioner, a TV newscaster, contended that he was entitled to deduct the expense of his on-the-air wardrobe that he kept at home because he was restricted in his selection of colors and patterns of such clothes and because he did not wear the clothes when he was not at the station on camera. The court did not agree with his contention and observed that "the restriction on the petitioner's selection of his business attire is not significantly different from that applicable to other business people who must limit their selection of business clothes to conservative styles and fashions. The fact that the petitioner chose not to wear his business clothes when he was away from the station does not mean that such clothes were not suitable for his private and personal wear. Indeed, most people do not wear their business clothes at home."

In Gerres v. Commissioner, TC Memo 1986-573, the petitioner was a welder and, as such, purchased fire resistance clothes. The Tax court ruled that the clothing was suitable for general wear and disallowed the deduction, even though the petitioner testified that he only wore the fire resistant clothes at work.

Answer…specialized clothing that is suitable for private/personal wear, maintained at home is not a business expense…other professionals do not get to deduct the costs of the suits worn in the corporate world.