Your pigeon is tax deductible, as long as it’s wearing a snazzy suit.
With tax time rolling around, I, like any responsible person, have been digging through my handbag for long forgotten receipts and wracking my brain for things I’ve bought that might count as tax deductible. But to be honest, my tax return is usually pretty tame – I don’t claim anything that’s not pretty incontestably a legitimate business expense.
Here are 7 of the weirdest – and let’s be honest, most impressive – tax deductions that people have actually gotten away with.
Back in 2005 in the Netherlands, Margarita Rongen successfully claimed witchcraft as educational costs. Yeah. Apparently, “the cost of a course to become a witch qualifies as school fees.” Those fees cover things like divination, healing and potion making.
It’s hard to say whether the Dutch court was actually convinced, or if they were just scared she might curse them. Best not to risk it, I guess.
2. The office ping-pong table
The office ping-pong tournament is not only a chance for me to show off my superior hand-eye coordination skills, but is now also tax deductible.
And it doesn’t stop there. If you work in a cool, hip office with things like Xboxes, dart boards or Foxtel, accountants have said those are probably covered too. So Google must basically be able to claim their entire building as a tax deduction, right?
3. A boob job
This one’s famous. Exotic dancer Chesty Love sued the IRS and won, so she was able to claim a $2,088 tax deduction for her breast implants. Her brand new 56FF bust was termed a ‘stage prop’ and deemed a legit business expense.
But before you add your new D cups to this year’s tax return – there’s a catch. Her implants had to satisfy the same criteria as a work uniform and only passed because she could argue that they were so large as to be ‘unsuitable for everyday use.’ So if you want to claim your new cleavage as a tax deduction, it really is a case of go big or go home.
4. Incredibly tight dresses
Dinah Shore, sparkling TV personality of the 1940s, claimed some really, really tight dresses as business expenses. Similar to Chesty Love, it only worked because the outfits weren’t suitable for everyday wear – she explained that she couldn’t possibly wear them outside her work on TV, because they were literally too tight to sit down in.
Rumour has it, the IRS sent someone to watch her put on the dresses and try to sit in them, to accurately judge which ones made the cut. That must have been an uncomfortable afternoon for everyone involved.
5. Bottled water
It seems that if you can strong arm your doctor into providing a prescription for it, you can claim just about anything, including $1,095 worth of bottled water. Essentially, a prescription means it’s a medical expense, no matter how weird and unnecessary it might seem.
I wonder if my doctor would write me a prescription for coffee?
6. Carrier pigeons
Conspiracy theorist everywhere have caught a tax break. If you are so paralysingly afraid of technology that you have never owned a computer or phone and choose to instead do business via carrier pigeon, then good news: both the birds and their upkeep could be tax deductible.
Personally, I distrust pigeons and would rather have the government listen to my phone calls than have to deal with those feathery balls of menace.
7. An African safari
Everything Hollywood has taught me about the IRS is turning out to be wrong. These guys are wild. First breast implants and slinky dresses, now an African safari trip.
That’s right, a couple of American dairy farmers were able to claim a trip to Africa because the farm’s promotional marketing often incorporated wild animals. It was a research trip, not a holiday.
You know, maybe it’s time to get a little more creative with my tax return. A research trip to Hawaii certainly wouldn’t go astray – after all, I write about travel insurance sometimes.
Heard of any other cool or crazy ideas for tax deductible expenses? Add them in the comments!
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*By the way, these were pretty exceptional cases and I can’t guarantee the ATO will look too kindly on you adding them to this year’s tax return. Always consult an accountant if you’re not sure, and don’t try these at home kids!