Can professional musicians deduct the purchase of required concert clothes? Yes, but you need to meet the IRS requirements for “uniforms” for the expense to be allowable. The IRS has a two-part test for deducting concert clothes.
- You are required to wear the clothes as a condition of your job.
- The clothes are not suitable for everyday wear.
The IRS states that “Musicians and entertainers can deduct the cost of theatrical clothing and accessories that aren’t suitable for everyday wear.” Clearly, tails and tuxedos are not everyday wear. But other concert clothes for men and women, such as black pants or shoes, might be considered everyday clothing. The IRS cautions that it is not enough that you do not wear your work clothes away from work. The requirement is that the clothes are “not suitable for taking the place of your everyday clothing.”
For details, see Miscellaneous Expenses, IRS Publication 529.
1099 versus W-2 Deductions
1099 Musicians (independent contractors) can deduct required concert clothes on Schedule C as a business expense. W-2 employee used to be able to deduct concert clothes as an unreimbursed employee expense on Schedule A. Unfortunately, the concert clothing deduction for W-2 Musicians was eliminated in 2017 by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
If you have both W-2 and 1099 gigs, you may be able to allocate your concert clothes purchases towards the requirements of your 1099 employers. Be able to provide documentation of your deduction, including:
- receipts describing the clothes purchased
- documents from your employer listing the required dress code
- state both that you do not wear the clothes at any time other than concerts AND that the clothing is not suitable for everyday use. I would suggest using the exact wording “not suitable”. While the IRS does not define “not suitable” in their instructions, that is the requirement.
Deducting Concert Clothes is a common tax deduction for professional musicians. Unfortunately, it’s easy to have that deduction tossed out by the IRS if you don’t follow their guidelines precisely!