Wacky Tax Deductions

If you think you've seen them all, check out these creative tax deductions.

The fourth installment of Bankrate’s report of wackiest tax deductions culled from certified public accountants nationwide revealed the following:

  • A client asked for a home office deduction for the toilet paper he bought for his house.
  • A client, whose income was about $40,000, brought in noncash receipts from donations made to various charities totaling roughly the same dollar amount as her income. Her CPA was about to nominate her for sainthood—until he heard the rest of the story. “She had gotten a divorce; her husband had cheated on her and just never came back,” he said. “He called her up and said he would send a moving van to divide their assets. So, she loaded up everything he would want—two or three sets of golf clubs and all the furniture, including some of his family antiques—and took it all to Goodwill. She even had photos of all the stuff!” The CPA had to inform her that she could deduct only up to 50% of her adjusted gross income.
  • A client’s business accounting entries included a check for more than $2,000 written to a gynecologist. It was classified on the business books as “repairs and maintenance.’
  • “We had a woman who tried to deduct her tricked-out Jacuzzi hot tub due to medical reasons,” said Elizabeth Dittrick of Dittrick and Associates in Burton, Ohio. “That can be a legitimate expense—but not the underwater speakers, the mood lighting , and the in-tub stereo. So we ended up deducting a portion of it but removed the sound and light show. She did use it for medical reasons; she had arthritis and had a note from her doctor.”
  • “A taxpayer wanted to write off a $100,000 swimming pool for medical reasons,” said the accountant. “Swimming, he explained quite seriously, relaxed him so he could earn more money, which in turn would be taxable.”
  • One accountant’s client was an elderly woman who had once been a university professor. When her doctor suggested she take up dancing to improve her arthritic hips, she enrolled at a dance studio. “The first year, she brought in her tax data and wanted to deduct over $8,000 in dance lessons,” the accountant said. “I got her to have her doctor write a letter, and I believe I did deduct it the first year.”
  • One CPA had a lady client who didn’t like some of her really mature trees because they didn’t fit into her new landscaping theme. “So, she dug them out and donated them to charity. She had to get somebody to appraise the value of the trees, but the IRS allowed it,” the accountant said.