When it comes to U.S. taxpayers, there’s no end to the ingenuity applied when it comes to weird tax deductions and the crazy reasons given to justify them. Though some of them may seem like a reach, sometimes the IRS even goes along with it. Here are some unique examples that are not explicitly in the tax law but have been fought for by some taxpayers:
- Cat food. A junkyard was having a problem with snakes, which were attracted to the rats overrunning the yard. The owners of the junkyard started setting out cat food each night to attract feral cats, which caught the rats and decreased the number of snakes slithering into the yard to look for their next meal. The IRS allowed the junkyard to deduct the cost of the cat food as a business expense.
- Boob job. When is plastic surgery a business expense? When stripper Chesty Love gets one to improve her stage appeal. While the IRS initially said that plastic surgery was a personal expense, Ms. Love argued that her assets were stage props necessary to her act, and the IRS ultimately agreed.
- Babysitting costs. A stay-at-home mom wasn’t eligible for the child care credit as she wasn’t employed, but she found a way to deduct babysitting anyway – as a charitable donation! The IRS allowed the deduction, agreeing that the child care was necessary so she could leave the house to do volunteer work.
- A private jet. A taxpayer with a rental condo in a remote area bought a jet so he could fly to check on his income-producing rental. The IRS agreed that all the costs of operating the jet to fly to the remote area and back were deductible as a rental expense.
- Music lessons. If an orthodontist recommends that your child take up the clarinet to improve their overbite, the cost of the lessons to teach your child how to play a musical instrument could qualify as a tax-deductible medical expense.
- An extravagant party. Prior to the new tax reform law, throwing a big shindig and inviting your clients may have been tax-deductible entertainment if the main reason for the party was business entertainment. Some folks have gone overboard and tried to deduct the costs of their daughters’ weddings — that’s a no-no, even if you invite clients since the reason for the expense is strictly personal. Now there is no question as to what is appropriate, as beginning with tax year 2018, taxpayers can no longer deduct entertainment expenses for clients.
- A dog. If you need a service dog, you may garner a medical deduction for pet-related expenses, including training and transportation. Expenses related to a guard dog for a construction yard may be a justifiable business expense. But the family dog? It’s a no go (even if you give it a “human name” and treat it like one of the family).
Don’t worry about knowing what tax deductions you can legitimately claim. TurboTax will ask you simple questions and give you the tax deductions and credits you’re eligible for. If you have questions, you can connect live via one-way video to a TurboTax Live CPA or Enrolled Agent to get your tax questions answered all year long. A TurboTax Live CPA or Enrolled Agent can even review, sign, and file your tax return.