Weirdest Tax Deductions

American taxpayers over the years have attempted to deduct a great many weird and sometimes mind-boggling expenses on their income tax returns. Some of the deductions the IRS approved and some they did not.

Not approved:

1. Arson. Some people think they can get away with anything. One man hired an arsonist to burn down his failing business. Not satisfied with trying to collect on the insurance covering his business, he also tried to claim the $10,000 he paid the arsonist as a business expense. He lacked an important form, however, to make this scheme work: The Form 1099 employers must produce for miscellaneous work done by an employee.

2. Pets. A pet may seem like a part of the family, but though many have tried, pets cannot be claimed as dependents on an income tax return. This flies in the face of the fact that many pets require more attention than some members of the family. (Or is that the  other way around?) In any case, the IRS has consistently disallowed a taxpayer’s deduction of the expenses concurrent with the care and keeping of pets.

3. Bath oils. As a treatment for dry skin, bath oils may work wonders. However, the IRS will deny this expense as a deduction under medical expenses. Should bath oils become available only through a prescription from a physician, this rule may change, but not before. Still, one should not go through life dry-skinned for lack of a deduction.

4. Dancing lessons. The IRS took a dim view of a taxpayer claiming the cost of dancing lessons as a medical expense, varicose veins or no varicose veins. Apparently the taxpayer could not produce a prescription for the lessons as legal documentation.


1. Snakes Alive. When the owner of a scrap yard found his rusty enterprise overrun with snakes, he put out cat food to attract wile felines. The cats took care of the snakes and the IRS okayed the cost of the cat food as a legitimate business expense.

2. Bite this. One taxpayer contrived a way to help his child correct a prominent overbite. The taxpayer bought the child a clarinet and paid for lessons on the instrument, then claimed the cost as medical expenses on the income tax return; the IRS approved the claim.

3. Breathe right. Another taxpayer sent his asthmatic child to a boarding school in Arizona. Expenses included room and board. The IRS reviewed the taxpayer’s documentation and found the claim a reasonable medical expense.

4. Frontal attack. A stripper who paid for breast enhancement procedures claimed the cost under business expenses on her income tax return. An understanding IRS accepted the claim. What the stripper offered in the way of documentation remains unknown. The stripper did have to pay additional taxes on the increased tips that her enhanced anatomy made possible.