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Pole dancer wins battle over £10,000 tax relief on stage outfits

A self-employed pole dancer who was working until September 2014 at a gentleman’s club in London has successfully argued her work outfits, including underwear, corsets, stockings, nurse and schoolgirl costumes and 6-10 inch stilettos, are eligible for tax relief, saving her around £10,000. The pole dancer also successfully listed makeup, fake tanning sessions and waxing as tax deductible expenses, along with false eyelashes and hair extensions.

Self employed persons are able to obtain tax relief for expenses which have been wholly and exclusively incurred for the purposes of the person's trade or business.

The only other case with a similar claim was a lady barrister who tried to claim tax relief on the cost of her work clothing including suits, shoes and a white blouse. She argued she only bought these clothes for works and would not choose to wear them outside of work. The court did not agree with her arguments saying the items were not ‘wholly and exclusively’ for the purpose of her trade as they were fine to wear outside of work, regardless of whether they were her preference, and they gave her warmth and decency.
In the pole dancer’s case the court decided that the outfits were not appropriate to be worn outside of the club as they were see-through and skimpy, and the shoes were cleverly made so that it was possible to hang upside down from a pole. Referencing the earlier case above the court said the pole dancer’s clothing could not be said to provide warmth and decency as was the case with the barrister’s clothing.

The court did not permit tax relief on the pole dancer’s travel expenses.

For tax advice please contact Graeme Perry, Head of UK and Cross Border Tax.