Virginia Sheriffs Applaud Sen. Mark Warner’s Efforts to Ensure Uniforms for Deputies Are Not Taxable

Virginia Sheriffs Applaud Sen. Mark Warner’s Efforts to Ensure Uniforms for Deputies Are Not Taxable

In response to Virginia Sheriff’s Association’s request, IRS provides clarity to Virginia public safety officials that the cost of clothing provided to wear on duty is not subject to taxation

RICHMOND – As a direct result of Sen. Mark Warner’s efforts, the IRS has agreed with the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association that deputies will not be expected to pay taxes on common clothing items that they are required to wear while on duty.

“Virginia sheriffs applaud Senator Warner’s persistence and work on this important issue on behalf of the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association,” said Executive Director John W. Jones. “I also want to commend Sheriff Brian Roberts of Brunswick County, who visited Washington with me carrying a display of various uniforms used by deputy sheriffs that are being taxed to show firsthand how modern day uniforms used by deputy sheriffs are functional, less expensive than traditional uniforms, and should not be subject to taxes by the IRS.”

Jones and Roberts met with Sen. Warner’s office last fall to request intervention with the IRS on behalf of the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association. “Sen. Warner’s swift action on this matter will save Virginia’s sheriffs and deputies from unfair taxation during tough budget times,” said Roberts.

“On behalf of the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association, I want to thank Sen. Warner for standing up for our members all across Virginia,” said Lunenburg Sheriff Arthur Townsend, Virginia Sheriffs’ Association President. “He continues to demonstrate a clear understanding of our needs and a willingness to support the sheriffs and deputies who put their lives on the line to protect the public.”

In January, Sen. Warner wrote to the IRS seeking the clarification on behalf of Virginia sheriffs and deputies concerned about the tax treatment of certain clothing items that are required as part of a uniform.

Under IRS regulations, uniforms are considered to be nontaxable if they are required as a condition of employment and the item(s) are “not suitable for everyday wear.” Due to the high costs of traditional uniforms, many sheriff’s offices issue some deputies clothing items such as polo style shirts, non-steel toe boots, or shorts to wear while working if their stations – such as providing jail security – do not require a full-service uniform. These standard uniform items often come with distinctive agency logos, and officials are prohibited by their offices from wearing them off duty. As an example, click HERE to review the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office uniform policy. However, in the absence of clear guidance from the agency, many individual IRS agents have determined that these common public safety uniform items are suitable for everyday wear and are therefore subject to taxation.

Responding to questions from Sen. Warner, IRS Associate Chief Counsel Andrew J. Keyso wrote in a letter, “Unfortunately, there is no comprehensive list of clothing, or labels or markings on clothing, that make the clothing suitable or unsuitable for everyday wear in all circumstances.” However, “In cases where a law enforcement agency or fire department has a policy of prohibiting off-duty wearing of uniforms, the uniform is properly viewed as not suitable for everyday wear and the value of the uniform is not includible in the employees’ income.”

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