Strange tax deductions that were approved by the government

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When it comes to tax write-offs, many people will stretch the limits to see what they can get away with.

Quite often, it might be worth it to at least try, given there have been instances in the past where some unusual tax deductions were approved by the Internal Revenue Service or the U.S. Tax Court.

Here are six examples, according to USA Today.

1. Tanning oil

From 1999 to 2001, a bodybuilder in Wisconsin deducted almost $14,000 for the cost of three body oils that aided his career. Since the oils were primarily marketed in bodybuilding magazines and not sold to the public, the deduction was approved.

2. Cat food

Owners of a South Carolina scrap yard in 2001 wrote off $300 as a cost for cat food, saying it was a business expense that attracted cats to the yard. In turn, those cats scared off snakes and rats from the business. The deduction was approved.

3. Clarinet lessons

A taxpayer in 1962 was allowed to deduct the costs of a clarinet and clarinet lessons for his son from his taxes. The reason was his son’s orthodontist recommended playing the clarinet as a way to treat severe overbite.

4. Boarding school

In 1944, a taxpayer from Cleveland, Ohio was allowed to write off nearly $1,000 in costs after sending his 5-year-old daughter to a boarding school in Tucson, Arizona. The reason the deduction was approved was because the girl was sent on doctor’s orders to Arizona because she suffered from bronchitis, sinusitis and asthma. When her health improved, the deduction was considered a medical expense.

5. Breast implants

In 1988, an exotic dancer wrote off close to $2,000 for the depreciation of her breast implants, saying they were a “stage prop” that increased her earnings. The U.S. Tax Court allowed the deduction, saying they were used for her work instead of a personal benefit.

6. Organic food

A Chicago couple in 1971 reportedly deducted $3,000, which was the difference in price they paid for organic food instead of regular food. The couple said they could only eat organic food per orders from three different doctors and made the deduction as a medical expense. The deduction was allowed.

This story was first published in 2021. It has since been updated.

About the Author:

Keith is a member of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which produces content for all the company's news websites.