Funny Tax Deductions and Weird Tax Write Offs

NO, pets can't be claimed as dependents!

Your dog may be part of your family, but he can't be claimed as a dependent!
Your dog may be part of your family, but he can't be claimed as a dependent! | Source

The IRS is Not Laughing at Funny Tax Deductions

The IRS is not known for their sense of humor, but that doesn't stop people from trying to claim some funny and weird tax deductions. From claiming a dog as a dependent to wanting a tax write off for the cost of hiring an arsonist, the IRS has seen them all. Rest assured, all of the claims below have been tried at least once. Listed below are some tax deductions that the IRS wasn't laughing about:

NO! You CAN'T Take These Tax Deductions:

  • A pet’s health expenses. No you can’t claim your dog’s hip replacement as a medical expense even though it did set you back $1500.

  • A dog (or cat) as a dependent. You can’t claim a pet as a dependent even if you do like your dog more than you like your kids. People have tried this, but they eventually get caught. Fido and Fluffy may be dependent on you, but the IRS won't give you a tax write off for them.

  • The wife’s new mink coat is NOT an entertainment expense just because she wears it to dinner with your business clients.

  • Mileage to and from the racetrack is not a business expense.

  • The cost of hiring a hit man to get rid of your cheating spouse just won’t pass the IRS auditors.

  • The cost of hiring an arsonist to burn down your failing business so you can collect the insurance. Somebody actually tried this, then ended up in jail for insurance fraud. ..and tax fraud.

  • The cost of sex toys as a business expense. Even though you are in the “business,” you can’t deduct sex toys as expenses for an illegal business. How do we know this? Somebody tried it, of course.

  • Cat food. Unless, of course, it’s a business expense (see below)

  • The cost of hiring a dog sitter. Hiring someone to come in and keep your dog company is not allowable as a day-care credit. Oh, yeah, it’s been tried…

  • The cost of your daughter’s wedding. A criminal defense lawyer found out that this is not a business expense even if you do you invite your clients.

  • Sperm donation as a loss. No, you can’t claim a depletion allowance on money you make from being a sperm donor. Depletion allowance is for assets like oil wells.

  • A nuclear fallout shelter. The guy who tried to claim building a bomb shelter as “preventive medicine” got turned down. Sorry, guy!

BUT... The IRS Did Approve These Funny Tax Write-Offs!

But here are some surprising tax deductions that HAVE been allowed. You’ll be happy to know that the IRS is not inflexible. Well, they may have been taken to court over some of them, but here are some surprising tax deductions that have been allowed

  • Sex Change Operation. In 2010, the U.S. Tax Court ruled that a woman who was born a man with gender identity disorder could claim hormone therapy and sex change surgery expenses as medical expenses. Rhiannon O’Donnabhain, who was born a man, took the IRS to court and was able to claim $5,000 of her $25,000 in medical expenses for her sex-change operation.
  • Body Oil. Body Builders who compete in body building competitions can deduct the cost of body oil.
  • Cat food as a business expense.A junk yard owner had a problem with rats, so he put out cat food to attract their natural predator – cats! The cats took care of the rat problem, and the owner was allowed to deduct the cost of the cat food as a business expense.
  • Free Beer. Yes, a brewery owner was able to deduct the cost of the free beer he gave away at his beer tasting promotions!
  • Clarinet Lessons. The cost of clarinet lessons for one child was allowed as a medical expense to help correct his over-bite. REALLY?

Funny Tax Quotes

"Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it."
~ Ronald Reagan


  • Depreciate your ostrich (or other livestock) as long as it’s used for breeding purposes.
  • A loan to a deadbeat. You know that $500 you loaned your deadbeat friend who disappeared without paying you a penny? The IRS has been known to allow similar loans as a loss because, unlike business loans, you can’t go after anyone for the money.
  • Cost of a swimming pool. When his doctor said it was medically necessary, a man was able to deduct the cost of installing a swimming pool and was allowed to claim the cost of upkeep as well.
  • Breast implants. A topless dancer deducted the cost of breast implants as a business expense. The IRS took exception to this, but she took them to court and won her case!
  • Cost of reversing a vasectomy. You can claim the cost of both the vasectomy and the vasectomy reversal as medical expenses. Ouch!
  • Taking care of feral cats.A California woman was allowed to deduct some of the cost of cat food and other costs of taking care of feral cats as a charitable donation.If she had kept receipts and had a letter from the animal shelter verifying her work with feral cats, she might have been able to deduct the full $12,000 she spent on caring for the stray cats.
  • Cost of a breast pump. If you are breast feeding your child, you can deduct the cost of a breast pump in your itemized deductions.
  • Whale hunting. If you are an indigenous Alaskan you are legally allowed to hunt whales. Captains of legal whale hunting expeditions are allowed to take a $10,000 business expense deduction.


A Business Convention in a Tropical Paradise? Fine with the IRS!

Write off cost of attending a business convention in a tropical paradise as long as it's on the IRS approved list or a US possession.
Write off cost of attending a business convention in a tropical paradise as long as it's on the IRS approved list or a US possession. | Source
  • The power of prayer by a Christian Scientist practitioner. If you are a Christian Scientist and don’t believe in medical doctors, you can deduct the cost of visiting a Christian Scientist practitioner as a medical expense.
  • An African Safari. No kidding, owners of a dairy business claimed that the safari was business related because it focused on activities of the wild animals. Apparently this was related to the dairy business because cows are animals…the IRS let them claim it!
  • Cost of moving your pet cross country. In the eyes of the IRS, your pet is a personal effect, and you can claim cost of moving your pet as long as the move is associated with your job.
  • A Trip to Bermuda or several other tropical destinations. The IRS will allow you to write off trips to business conventions in Bermuda, Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, Dominica, St. Lucia, Canada, Mexico and several other places including any destination to U.S. possession.


Who Knew that Tax Deductions Could be Entertaining?

It all goes to show you that IRS agents must get some fun out of reading tax returns. Well, at least these creative tax deductions and tax write offs can entertain us...and maybe they'll give you some ideas of how to take another deduction...legal, of course!

For a look at ways to Increase Your Chances of a Tax Audit and IRS Red Flags check my recent article.

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Copyright ©2012 Stephanie Henkel

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Comments 42 comments

Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 4 years ago from California Gold Country

Yes, very entertaining and interesting. I did know someone who had a very nice in-ground spa installed in his yard. .. and his doctor had recommended such therapy for him. He was able to claim at least part of the cost as a medical deduction.


diogenes profile image

diogenes 4 years ago from UK and Mexico

I bet the tax office is having a kitten over all the claims that must be going to them (in UK at least) for the removal and reinstallation of plastic boobs!

Our NHS says it will take them out, but not give then new ones. The private clinics who installed the original ones now bursting have headed for the hills in many cases; in others, they want to charge anew to replace them!

It's all gone tits up, I'm afraid!

Good and amusing hub.

Bob


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Rochelle Frank - Hey, I want an in-ground spa! What's this doctor's name? Thanks for stopping by to comment and give us a little more insight into legal tax deductions!


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Bob - Haha...I'm sure that there are similar problems here, though I haven't heard what the word is on claiming the replacement surgery as a medical expense...or is it a business expense? Oh,the fun the Internal Revenue Service must have trying to figure out the legality of those deductions, reductions and enhancements!


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 4 years ago from Bend, Oregon

Cat food as a business expense? Well, I guess I can see that.... Very funny hub. Love the Ronald Reagan quote, too!


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Hi Steph,

I thought the cat food was pretty good, too. I was a little surprised when I found the Ronald Regan quote, but he did have a sense of humor, I guess! Thanks for dropping by!


Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 4 years ago from South Carolina

Very interesting read.

With the enormous size of our tax codes it's amazing that anyone, including IRS workers, tax accountants and the public can figure out what is and isn't tax deductible.

One wonders how consistent the rulings of the IRS is in this matter.

I loved the example of the guy who deducted the expense of the cats that he fed in order to get rid of the rats. That's a win-win situation for all concerned as it was environmentally friendly.

The biggest deduction that's NOT allowed, but I've always felt SHOULD be, is the cost of health insurance premiums. For those who don't get this benefit through their employers, the cost of purchasing the insurance is often the highest expense they have for health related care yet it can't be deducted!

Voted up, useful and interesting.


tammyswallow profile image

tammyswallow 4 years ago from North Carolina

I learned a lot reading this. Some of these are just hilarious! You did some great research! One of the most entertaining hubs I have read in awhile!


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

What a great hub! I actually have a VHS tape of Reagan's comical statements. He did have a sense of humor. This is a funny and awesome hub. I'm waiting for the day I can deduct my pet expenses and claim them as dependents! :-) Many votes!


JayeWisdom profile image

JayeWisdom 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

I really wish I could count my dog as a dependent because her expenses are as much as mine!


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Hi Gail,

I agree about the cost of health insurance. With the cost of health care skyrocketing, health insurance is a necessary health cost that is difficult enough to pay out of pocket. It really should be deductible!

Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Gail!


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Tammyswallow - I'm so glad that you learned something from my hub and that you fount it entertaining. Taxes and tax deductions can be so serious, that I enjoyed the opportunity to bring some humor to the subject. Thanks so much for your comments!


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Victoria Lynn - I was pretty surprised when I read some of Reagan's comments about taxes, but I'm delighted by his humor. I agree, pets are so much a part of our families that it doesn't seem fair that they can't be our dependents! Thanks for commenting!


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

JayeWisdom - Pet health care is certainly not cheap! Veterinarian bills, special foods and medicines can add up to a big chunk of cash. And they are dependent on us...maybe the IRS will relent one day... :)


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

This hub is such a special tweet, lots of useful info and a lot of humor! :)


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Sunshine625 - I'm sure you could come up with a few more funny tax deductions, Linda! Thanks for tweeting this!


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida

I just learned some new deductions that I'm probably not taking advantage of! Wonder if your dog is a therapy dog, you could deduct expenses for her? My Schnauzer is a therapy dog....

I voted this Hub UP, etc. and will share with followers, and social sites, tweet, etc.


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA

Wow, when I was looking at the hilarious list of the things people didn't get away with, I was surprised at the nerve of some people, but then when I saw the even more hilarious list of the things people did get away with, I can certainly see why. I'm off to think of things I can deduct on my taxes next year! Voted up.


Lipnancy profile image

Lipnancy 4 years ago from Hamburg, New York

These are too funny. It makes me wonder what people get away with without being caught. Voted Up and Shared.


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Mary615 - I don't have a dog, but my cat is definitely a therapy cat...wonder if I can deduct those vet bills? Thanks for the votes and the shares!

Millionaire Tips - Well, if you come up with some really good stuff and get away with it, let me know...I'll add it to my hub! Of course, I'll change the name to protect the... well, you!

Lipnancy - When we see some of the things that people have gotten away with, it does make us wonder how much else there might be that hasn't been publicized! Thanks for the votes and shares!


Sharkye11 profile image

Sharkye11 4 years ago from Oklahoma

This was so fun to read. I wish I was a little smarter when it came to tax deductions...I'm sure there are some things I "need" to write off. :)

I can't believe someone had the nerve to try to write of am arsonist. Now that is...dumb!


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Sharkye11 - I think that some of the people mentioned were a little too smart for their own good! On the other hand, isn't it amazing the weird tax deductions that were approved by the IRS?


Tom Schumacher profile image

Tom Schumacher 3 years ago from Huntington Beach, CA

"Depletion allowance is for assets like oil wells." ~ Too funny!!! It never seizes to amaze me how people try to justify their financial situation with respect to paying taxes. Voted up!


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 3 years ago from USA Author

Tom Schumacher - People definitely come up with some creative reasons to claim tax deductions, but what amazed me the most were the strange claims that the IRS allowed.


J.S.Matthew profile image

J.S.Matthew 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

This was an interesting read. Very funny is the tax code. What will they think of next? Up and shared.

JSMatthew~


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA

Wow, that was very entertaining! I thoroughly enjoyed reading about all the cool and creative tax write-offs. Voted up and more.Sharing!


Brett Winn profile image

Brett Winn 3 years ago from US

Cute and informational! I did hear of a guy who listed himself as his goldfish's life insurance beneficiary ... but am pretty sure that loophole (if it ever was) has been closed now. Thanks for the lighthearted look!


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 3 years ago from California

So interesting what we try to expense!


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 3 years ago from USA Author

Thanks for stopping by to read and comment! Hope reading about the IRS gave you a few chuckles! :)


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 3 years ago from USA Author

Brett Winn - Isn't it amazing the creative things people think of! Hmm...goldfish life insurance?


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 3 years ago from USA Author

Victoria Lynn - Since I just finished doing my taxes (without using any of these creative deductions), I do think a few smiles are needed! Glad you enjoyed my article on funny tax deductions. Thanks for your comment and for sharing!


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 3 years ago from USA Author

J.S. Matthew - Well, I tried to fit some of these funny deductions into my tax return, but they just wouldn't work for me... :) Thanks for the comments, votes and share!


eddiecarrara profile image

eddiecarrara 3 years ago from New Hampshire

Great hub Stephanie, very laughable. It doesn't surprise me though, what amazes me is that taxes were supposed to alleviate the high cost of war, and look where we are now, lol.

I have a question? In New Hampshire we have a view tax, so if you're blind, are you exempt from that tax? Food for thought :)

Voted up and funny!!


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 3 years ago from USA Author

Eddiecarrara - The way the tax system has evolved is beyond me to try to explain! Interesting question about the view tax...well, one could try to use that reasoning for getting an exemption from paying it. Thanks so much for your comments!


John Jason Hosac profile image

John Jason Hosac 3 years ago

Good stuff! However, as far as the deadbeat friend that you loaned money to...you can go after them in small claims court assuming there was some kind of promissory note or contract drawn up in the presence of a notary.


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 3 years ago from USA Author

John Jason Hosac - Good point about being able to go after someone in small claims court if you have a signed promissory note or contract. Unfortunately, so many people who loan money to friends or relatives do not get a notarized contract. It's a good thing to keep in mind. Thanks for your input!


John Jason Hosac profile image

John Jason Hosac 3 years ago

True but then in the case of an audit how do you prove that you loaned out the money? This could otherwise be a potential for tax fraud. Assuming I needed to get to the next tax bracket to increase my return, this would be the way to do it and with no paper trail how would the IRS argue one way or another? I think this has to be documented to function as a tax deduction as well. In many states small claims cases are not legally binding. In NJ for instance you do not NEED to pay off a small claims judgement. There is more work involved in going after collecting on the judgement that needs to be done on behalf of the plaintiff.


infoweekly profile image

infoweekly 2 years ago from South Africa

Haha the things people try to claim for are to good. But it must keep the people working there amused.


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 2 years ago from USA Author

Infoweekly - Some of these tax deductions are definitely amusing. I find it unbelievable that people get away with them! It goes to show that maybe the IRS people do have a sense of humor!


Julie K Henderson profile image

Julie K Henderson 20 months ago

Hilarious. Thank you for sharing. I am afraid I have no body oil to claim as a tax deduction....


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 20 months ago from USA Author

Julie K Henderson - Glad you got a laugh out of this, Julie. We all need something to smile about during tax season! :)


Julie K Henderson profile image

Julie K Henderson 20 months ago

We do indeed.

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