SSR 70-43: SECTION 209. -- WAGES -- STATUS OF UNIFORM ALLOWANCES TO EMPLOYEES OF A STATE OR POLITICAL SUBDIVISION
- Where uniforms are specifically required to be worn by employees as a condition of employment by the employer and such uniforms are not adaptable to general or continued usage to the extent that they take the place of ordinary clothing, held, neither cash payments to the employees in the form of reimbursements or advances for the purchase of the uniforms, nor the value of the uniforms furnished to employees by the employer is considered wages within the meaning of section 209 of the Social Security Act.
A State which provides social security coverage for its employees under a Federal-State agreement pursuant to section 218 of the Social Security Act has asked whether the value of uniforms, required as a condition of employment and furnished to the employees by the employer, or cash payments (either advances or reimbursements) made to employees to purchase such uniforms constitute "wages" within the meaning of section 209 of the Social Security Act.
Section 209 of the Act provides, as pertinent here, that the term "wages" means remuneration paid after 1950 for employment, including the cash value of all remuneration paid in any medium other than cash with certain specified exclusions. In this connection Regulations No. 4 of the Social Security Administration, section 404.1026(a)(8)(20 CFR 404.1026(a)(8)) provides as follows:
- Amounts paid specifically -- either as advances or reimbursements -- for traveling or other bona fide ordinary and necessary expenses incurred or reasonably expected to be incurred in the business of the employer are not wages. Traveling and other reimbursed expenses must be identified either by making a separate payment or by specifically indicating the separate amounts where both wages and expense allowances are combined in a single payment.
Whether uniform allowances represent expenditures for the employee's personal use and convenience, in which case they would constitute remuneration for employment and thus be classifiable as "wages," or whether they are expenses incurred in the course of the employer's business and therefore not "wages" must be determined by the facts in each case.
Generally, the value of uniforms required and furnished by employers to employees does not represent remuneration to the employee for services and thus is not considered "wages" within the meaning of section 209 of the Social Security Act if the uniforms are (1) required as a condition of employment to be worn in the performance of the services; and (2) are not of a type adaptable to general or continued wear to the extent that they may take the place of ordinary clothing. Also, cash payments in the form of advances or reimbursements paid to employees by an employer for the purchase of uniforms do not constitute "wages" within the meaning of section 209 if the conditions specified in (1) and (2) above are met and the amounts are specifically identified as such pursuant to applicable regulations.