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Hey, it's not cheap to look good on HDTV

February 25, 2011

20110225-1.jpgMaybe the big-time TV anchors get their clothes custom-tailored by the networks, but it doesn't work that way in the local markets. What's a poor TV girl to do?

Deduct everything, of course -- down to the thong underwear.

Unfortunately for an Ohio anchoress, the tax law isn't much help for a working woman. The Tax Court takes up the story of 10TV Anchor Anietra Hamper of Columbus:

On Schedules A of her Federal income tax returns for the years at issue, petitioner claimed deductions for unreimbursed employee business expenses of $20,713, $18,604, $22,602, and $21,759, for 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008, respectively. These deductions for unreimbursed employee business expenses included expenses for clothing, a cell phone, mileage expenses, professional expenses, subscriptions, union dues, supplies, promotional products, legal expenses, hair, nail, and makeup expenses, office expenses, dry cleaning costs, educational and self-defense class costs, and Internet expenses.

About the clothes:

Petitioner purchased most of her business clothing and accessories from typical clothing stores such as Nordstrom's, Kohl's, Victoria's Secret, Macy's, Old Navy, JCPenney, Sportmart, Casual Corner, DSW, Ann Taylor Loft, Dick's Sporting Goods, Marshall's, Charlotte Russe, and other local clothing stores.

Petitioner's clothing purchases for work consisted of such items as traditional business suits, lounge wear, a robe, sportswear, active wear, lingerie, cotton bikini and cotton thong underwear, and evening wear. She also deducted expenses for an Ohio State jersey, jewelry, bedding, running and walking shoes, and dry cleaning costs.

Victoria's Secret? I guess that would be consistent with national news marketing practices.

Some guy and Fox News' Laurie Dhue, courtesy

The standard used by our heroine in deciding what to deduct:

Petitioner used a self-described criterion for determining whether a clothing expense was deductible. She would ask herself "would I be buying this if I didn't have to wear this" to work, "and if the answer is no, then I know that I am buying it specifically" for work, and therefore, it is a deductible business expense.

Unfortunately, that's not the standard in the tax law, as the judge explained:

Although she is required to purchase conservative business attire, it is not of a fashion that is outrageous or otherwise unsuitable for everyday personal wear. Given the nature of her expenditures, it is evident that petitioner's clothing is in fact suitable for everyday wear, even if it is not so worn. Consequently, the Court upholds respondent's determination that petitioner is not entitled to deduct expenses related to clothing, shoes, and accessory costs, as these are inherently personal expenses. Additionally, because the costs associated with the purchase of clothing are a nondeductible personal expense, costs for the maintenance of the clothing such as dry cleaning costs are also nondeductible personal expenses.

If the costs of looking like a TV anchor are non-deductible, there isn't much hope for the stained shirts and scuffed shoes of a tax-season CPA.

Cite: Hamper, T.C. Summary Opinion 2011-17

UPDATE: The TaxProf has more.

UPDATE, 2/26: Kay Bell coverage.

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Hey Joe,

They don't call it "Fox" news for nothing!

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