Can I Write Off My Haircut?

Jan 10, 2024 | Deductions

The short answer: sometimes.

With tax season approaching, professionals working in industries in which one has to look, well, professional, may find themselves wondering if their visit to the salon can be claimed as a tax write-off.

Consider the following: you’re a coach or a consultant who spends 70% of their work time chatting with clients on Zoom. From where you’re sitting, going the extra mile to look great seems like a pretty darn reasonable thing to do.

If you show up for your meeting sporting the “Severus Snape,” your clients aren’t exactly going to take you as seriously as they might if you were looking more…tidy. (Side note: has anybody else ever wondered why Snape, who worked in a potions lab, couldn’t muster up a spell for some wizardly clarifying shampoo? I mean… “EnchantiCleanse,” anyone? )

But back to business.

The general rule is that personal grooming expenses, including haircuts, are not deductible.

Boo. No fun!

But, as always, there are some exceptions. Here they are:

1. Your Appearance IS Your Job

If you’re a television presenter, actor, or model, where appearance is a significant part of your job, you may be able to argue that haircuts are a necessary business expense. However, the IRS scrutinizes such claims closely, and it’s crucial to demonstrate a clear connection between the expense and the generation of income.

2. You Perform “Onstage”

While you can’t deduct personal expenses from everyday life, you can deduct things like makeup, clothing, and hair styling if these expenses are directly related to the carrying out of your actual job. So if you wear a certain kind of makeup for performances, you can deduct the makeup. But if you purchase the same makeup strictly for personal use, you cannot deduct it.

The same is true for hair styling expenses. If your hair must be styled for a photo shoot or performance directly related to your business, the styling costs would be tax deductible.

A good way to tell if a personal grooming expense like a haircut would be considered tax deductible is to ask yourself, “Would I still pay for this if I had a different job?” If the answer is “yes,” then you probably can’t write off the expense.


Document, Document, Document!

If you’re a unicorn who really does have a justified reason to write-off your haircut, remember that proper documentation is key to claiming any deduction.

Make sure to keep detailed records, including receipts and supporting documents, to back up your claims in the event of an audit.

And, as always, work with a knowledgeable tax professional to be certain you’re optimizing your write-offs while still following IRS rules.

The Hairy Truth: Your Salon Visit Probably Won’t Pass the Sniff Test

In conclusion, the general rule is that haircuts are not deductible as a personal grooming expense.

I know…it stinks. (But on the brighter side, your hair won’t!)

Because seriously, has anyone at the IRS ever looked at their Zoom face on an ugly day? And they still won’t allow the deduction?

Cruel.

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