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Strangest Tax Deductions

The Minnesota Society of CPAs recently conducted its annual CPA member survey about the most strange and unusual tax deductions proposed by clients. The responses included everything from pets and wedding rings to gifts not given.


Here is the MNCPA's list of the best strange—and unacceptable—deductions for 2013.
-- Michael Cohn, Accounting Today

1. A fur coat worn to promote a cleaning business 1. A fur coat worn to promote a cleaning business

As one tax filer learned, you’ll never outfox the IRS. And we can’t help but wonder, what would the fox say?


Image: Shutterstock

2. A wedding ring 2. A wedding ring

A diamond is forever, and so is a taxpayer’s inability to deduct the cost of a wedding ring.


Image: Shutterstock

3. 101 dog deductions 3. 101 dog deductions

Expenses for dogs, dogs as guard dogs, a small dog as a “burglar alarm,” dog adoption costs, and even a dog as a dependent. CPAs heard it all this year. That’s 101 “uh-uhs” from CPAs and the IRS.


Image: Shutterstock

4. An ATV as a medical deduction for stress relief 4. An ATV as a medical deduction for stress relief

No doubt, it’s fun to go out and let ‘er rip on the trails. But, the CPA and the IRS weren’t buying the ATV as a medical deduction in this case.


Image: Shutterstock

5. Placing a business sign on a personal automobile and writing off the car as an advertising expense 5. Placing a business sign on a personal automobile and writing off the car as an advertising expense

The CPA had to put this message in bright lights: “Not deductible.


Image: TonyV3112 / Shutterstock.com

6. A family vacation: 6. A family vacation:

Ahh, the crystal-clear emerald water, the exquisite sand beaches, the cool ocean breeze. We hope the family enjoyed the vacation more than the tax filer enjoyed hearing the news that it wasn’t deductible.


Image: Shutterstock

7. A $1 million dollar deduction for a contribution of land without an appraisal: 7. A $1 million dollar deduction for a contribution of land without an appraisal:

Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but this generous donor learned the hard way that property value is not.


Image: Shutterstock

8. Infant “employee” 8. Infant “employee”

Sure, you can bring your children into the family business and count them as employees. But, as one business owner discovered, children who can’t yet walk or talk rarely qualify. Plus, they want everything handed to them.


Image: Shutterstock

9. A large charitable deduction for a gift not given 9. A large charitable deduction for a gift not given

One taxpayer thought that everyone could deduct a certain percentage of their income as a charitable deduction. Good news: They can! Bad news: They need to actually make the donation.


Image: Shutterstock

10. School lunches as a business expense 10. School lunches as a business expense

As one business owner learned, unless her child is closing business deals with other first-graders at the school, these lunches aren’t deductible.


Image: Shutterstock

11. Claiming a home theater as “video conferencing equipment” 11. Claiming a home theater as “video conferencing equipment”

As soon as a CPA got her hands on this taxpayer’s return, that proposed deduction was “Gone with the Wind.”


Image: Shutterstock

12. Botox and tanning 12. Botox and tanning

One poor filer couldn’t even furrow her brow upon learning that these expenses weren’t deductible.


Image: Shutterstock

The Minnesota Society of CPAs recently conducted its annual CPA member survey about the most strange and unusual tax deductions proposed by clients. The responses included everything from pets and wedding rings to gifts not given.

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Comments (5)
Ann Romney's $77,731 deduction for Rafalca , her dancing dressage horse.
Posted by ROBERT L | Tuesday, February 18 2014 at 8:37AM ET
Ah yes, the oft touted but completely inaccurate claim about Ann Romney and Rafalca. If you looked the tax return over carefully, you would have seen that ultimately, the Romneys were able to deduct about $39.00 for their string of dressage horses. Now, if one of those horses sell for above its original price, then more of the $77,731 will be deductible, but for the year prior to the presidential election, the Romneys had a negligible deduction for Rafalca.
Posted by | Wednesday, February 19 2014 at 2:42PM ET
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Posted by jtllopsg k | Saturday, April 05 2014 at 6:12PM ET
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Posted by jtllopsg k | Sunday, April 06 2014 at 1:53AM ET
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Posted by jtllopsg k | Tuesday, April 08 2014 at 10:50PM ET
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