Did You Know: Wacky Tax Deductions

April 15, 2015 : H&R Block

There are a lot of urban legends about things the weird tax deductions the IRS allows. For instance, you cannot pay an arsonist to burn down your business and deduct the payment to them as a “consulting fee.” (Someone actually tried this.)

You cannot deduct the cost of an air-conditioned hotel room if you are asthmatic and your home air conditioner breaks down.

Maybe most sad: boarding your dog while you’re on a work trip does not qualify as a business expense.

However….

There are some weird tax deductions allowed. It should be noted that these unusual deductions usually fall into a couple categories:

  1. A medical expense deduction for an item that isn’t typically thought of as a medical expense (remember, like in the AC example above, just because a doctor recommends something – or even writes it on a prescription pad – does not make it deductible); or
  2. A business deduction for a personal-use item.

So, here are some things that actual taxpayers were able to deduct on their tax return:

  • A clarinet, and lessons, to help a child’s overbite
  • Posing oil for a bodybuilder
  • Breast implants for an exotic dancer
  • Travel, room and board for sending a child with respiratory problems to a boarding school in Arizona

While we hope you get all the deductions you’re entitled to this tax season (and would be happy to help make sure you do!), remember that just because the Tax Court allowed these deductions for one taxpayer doesn’t mean they will be allowed for you. In fact, these would only be allowed in the most rare circumstances.

For example, in the one Tax Court case (Hess v. Commissioner) where an exotic dancer was allowed a deduction for her breast implants the judge stated that “part of her ‘costume’ was her freakishly large breasts” (they were 56N – no kidding!) which were useful only in her business due to the personal hardship they caused her and, therefore, could be categorized as a non-personal business expenditure.

Moral of the story: don’t get too creative with your deductions. Here are a few deductions that are unusual but might be more likely to apply to you.

If you have highly specialized work clothes – like a costume for a clown – you may be able to deduct the cost.

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If your office and home are the same, you may be able to take some tax deductions for a portion of upkeep, repairs, utilities and more. Read more about home office deductions.

If you are looking for a new job (but not your first job), you may be able to deduct expenses related to the search, like resume workshops, travel for interviews and fees paid to a recruiter.

Did you claim any weird tax deductions on your tax returns?

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