Diversions

10 Most Outrageous Tax Deductions

What’s allowed? What’s not allowed? Here’s a list of things that won’t fly with the IRS on a tax return.

By Jill Cornfield editors@assetinternational.com | February 11, 2016

As tax-filing season heats up, the Minnesota Society of Certified Public Accountants recently surveyed CPA members in public accounting on the most outrageous tax deductions clients tried to take on their tax returns.

Deductions for business expenses are some of the biggest prizes and booby traps of doing your tax return. The list shows that, more often than not, taxpayers just don't know which deductions are allowed.

Among the strangest recent deductions, and unacceptable (at least in the eyes of tax authorities):

  1. Puttin' on the Ritz: We all like to look nice, especially for business purposes. But you’re expected to arrive to work fully clothed; looking nice is a strictly a bonus with no place on your tax return.
  2. Piano man: A humanities professor thought he could deduct a piano. Sour note, unless the professor provided lessons as part of a small business.
  3. Giving until it hurts: Unfortunately for one filer, gambling losses didn't qualify as a charitable donation to casinos or the Minnesota State Lottery.
  4. Foot powder: Fighting smelly feet at the office can be a kindness to your co-workers. As far as the taxman goes, the benefit stops there.
  5. Hull of a bad idea: One taxpayer wanted to depreciate the cost of a large boat because it was used “occasionally” for client entertainment.
  6. Thrill seeking: Amusement parks don't qualify for a day-care deduction.
  7. Here, kitty: Even if your cats keep mice out of the barn you use to make a living, in general, pet expenses aren’t deductible.
  8. To have and withhold: One taxpayer tried to deduct part of his wedding costs because more than half the guests were business contacts.
  9. Forever young: Botox, tanning, nails and the like do not qualify as acceptable deductions.
  10. Getting there: You can get mileage reimbursement either through your work (if offered) or the government for mileage incurred while on the clock and for business purposes, but driving to and from work is not going to stick.