5 True Stories of Totally Weird Tax Deductions

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Tax season is almost upon us, which means someone, somewhere is asking the age-old question: Can I write off my cat food? (The answer: You can’t unless it’s a business expense). What you can do, however, is read this excellent roundup of weird tax deductions, guaranteed to get you jazzed about filling out that 1099. And if you aren’t ready for tax season, what are you waiting for?

1. Bar Mitzvah Networking

“I’ve seen my fair share of weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs and other large parties that were ‘100% business deductions,'” Howard Rosen, a certified public accountant and tax attorney based in St. Louis, told Credit.com via email. “When I asked for the invite list and the business relationship of each person on it, most of the deduction disappeared.” No wonder: If you’re inviting customers, bankers, attorneys and so on, you may be able to deduct the direct costs associated with those people. If it’s your Aunt Martha, 12 cousins on your mom’s side and your sorority sisters, you may be out of luck.

2. Bruno the Guard Dog

“I had a client who wanted to deduct the cost of her ‘guard dog’ because she had valuable artwork in her home,” Rosen remembers. “The dog was a Pomeranian, and I knew this because I had been to her home several times. When I mentioned I had seen Bruno and knew he wasn’t really a threat to a burglar, she tried to convince me the dog’s bite was awful and that he was indeed there to protect her collection. I suggested she install an alarm system instead.”

3. The Paleo Deduction

“Last tax season, a client wanted to deduct the cost of their family eating non-processed foods as a medical expense,” wrote John Kane, a CPA with the Cook Martin firm in Salt Lake City, in an email to Credit.com. “Their argument was that their diet — gluten-free, vegan, paleo — was expensive. There was no diagnosed medical condition, the taxpayer simply felt that they were able to think more clearly as a result of their ‘clean eating.’ This, unfortunately, is not deductible.”

4. Deductions by Way of Fiji

“Another client insisted his trips abroad were to find buyers for his products,” says Rosen. “What were his products, you ask? He was a residential real estate developer and he had never done any business outside his immediate area. I asked him to document any sales calls, banking relationships, potential buyers or other developers he had talked or met with on these trips. That ended the discussion pretty quickly.”

5. The Company Man

“I had a client that operated a handyman business and he expensed and deducted everything that was put on his company credit card,” Jared R. Callister, a CPA with Fishman, Larsen & Callister in Fresno, Calif., told Credit.com via email. “He was adamant that all expenses were business-related. However, when I combed through the receipts and found he was trying to deduct things like toothbrushes, deodorant and even women’s lingerie, it became clear that many of his so-called business expenses were just personal non-deductible purchases.”

Bummed you can’t take any of these weird tax deductions? Here’s a guide to the most common deductions.

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