You don't need to be an accountant or tax attorney to know that the Internal Revenue Service Code is complicated. Furthermore, the fact that most of the Code's rules have subjective criteria for their use makes it even more complicated. Tax deductions are no exception: the breadth of those available and the fact it is up to the taxpayer to decide which ones to claim and how much they are worth makes for some very weird tax deductions.
Many times, weird tax deductions are based on a general concept, like medical expenses. It is the application of that concept that changes it from being a basic deduction into one that makes the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and other taxpayers take note.
- Swimming Pool for Medical Expenses: Medical supplies for diagnosis and treatment of a condition or illness are deductible, according to IRS Publication 502. If your physician recommends you treat an injury or illness by swimming, you just might be able to deduct the cost of installing and maintaining your private pool. Be aware, however, that the IRS won't look too favorably upon your deducting the cost of the sauna or hot tub you also installed.
- Pregnancy Tests: This deduction is specifically listed in IRS Publication 502, but that does not make it any less odd. So go ahead and stock up on those tests at the pharmacy because there's nothing in this deduction that requires the test be administered by a physician.
- Hormone Therapy Medications: Prescription medications ingested for hormone therapy reasons are deductible as prescription medical expenses. Several courts have identified hormone deficiency as a medical condition requiring treatment, even if it causes no side-effects. This deduction also applies to individuals undergoing fertility treatments. (See IRS Publication 502 for guidance).
- Wigs for Hair Losses: Per IRS Publication 502, individuals suffering hair-loss due to a condition or disease can deduct the cost of any wigs they purchase as recommended by their physician.
- Body Scan: Are you interested in knowing what your body looks like on the inside? If so, go ahead and get yourself a body scan. Even if your insurance company won't cover the expense, you can deduct the full cost from your taxes.
- Guide Dog Food, Supplies, and Veterinary Bills: Certified blind individuals or anyone with a medical need for a guide dog can deduct the cost of caring for the animal per IRS Publication 502. This includes food, licensing fees, and vet bills.
- Transportation to Donate an Organ: Organ donors can deduct not only any medical costs associated with the donation, but also costs of transportation.
- Nicotine Withdrawal Alleviation Medications or Other Drugs: Nicotine gum, patches, and other withdrawal-alleviating substances are deductible. However, IRS Publication 502 notes they must be prescribed by a physician.
- Breast Pumps: Any new mom knows breast pumps are an unavoidable and expensive purchase to prepare for a new baby. Fortunately, taxpayers are allowed to deduct the full cost of pumps or any other device intended to increase lactation.
- Whaling Boat Refitting Costs: Whaling boat captains are eligible to deduct as much as $10,000 for any repairs to their boats. The catch to this is that only Alaskan captains are eligible. (See IRS Publication 526 to learn more.
- Presents for Business Acquaintances: You can deduct as much as $25.00 per gift given to any business associates, notes IRS Publication 463. While this may not represent the full cost of that china bowl you gave your boss's daughter for her wedding, it's at least something.
- Foreign Location Meetings: Expenses associated with business meetings held outside the U.S. are deductible as business travel expenses. You do not need to prove that it was necessary to hold the meeting outside the states. (See IRS Publication 463 to learn more).
- Pet Moving Expenses: You probably know that you can deduct the costs of moving for a new job, but you likely didn't know that you can deduct the cost of shipping your pet to your new home. Therefore, remember that when you take Rufus on the plane with you to your new home, remember that you can deduct the cost of his ticket. (See IRS Publication 521 for additional information).
- Home Office Landscaping Expenses: If you can prove the presentation of your lawn plays an integral role in the success of your home-based business, you may be able to deduct the costs of maintenance. For example, you may only cater to a high-end clientele or frequently hold client meetings on the lawn.
- Weight-Loss Treatment: You can deduct expenses associated with treatment for physician-diagnosed obesity, notes IRS Publication 520.
- Alcohol and Drug Addiction Treatment Costs: According to IRS Publication 520, expenses related to inpatient treatment received for alcoholism and drug addiction are also deductible.
Claiming Your Uncommon Deductions
Don't hesitate to claim a valid deduction on your taxes, no matter how weird it may seem to you. Seek legal assistance if you are unsure whether you can legally claim the deduction available to you and how much you can claim.