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HMRC internal manual

Employment Income Manual

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Other expenses: clothing: case law

The leading case on clothing is Hillyer v Leeke (51TC90). Mr Hillyer was a computer engineer who was required by his manager to wear a suit and tie at work. He only wore his suit and tie at work and they suffered excessive wear and tear as a result of the nature of his duties. It was held in the High Court that no deduction was due for the cost of the clothing.

The cost of the clothing was not incurred wholly and exclusively in the performance of Mr Hillyer’s duties, see EIM31660. At the same time as he was wearing the clothing for work it was also meeting his need for warmth and decency.

It could not be said that warmth and decency were merely incidental to the business purpose of the clothing, see EIM31664. Both purposes were inextricably intermingled.

The cost of the clothing could not be apportioned to take account of the wear and tear suffered at work. There is no part of the cost of the clothing that can be identified as incurred exclusively in the performance of the duties, see EIM31661.

The fact that the employer required Mr Hillyer to wear particular clothing did not help his case. Goulding J commented that:

“the employee has to wear something and the nature of his job dictates what that something will be.”

Many jobs require clothing of a particular type. For example, outdoor workers may require warm clothing while other workers may require lightweight clothing. There are also jobs for which the employee is required to be particularly smart. The fact that particular clothing may be necessary to carry out a particular job does not make the cost of that clothing deductible. This is illustrated by examples EIM32460 and EIM32461.

Similarly the fact that the clothing was only worn at work was immaterial. There was no necessity to restrict his wearing of it to his working hours.

A deduction is permitted for the cost of certain specialist clothing, see EIM32465.