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2007 Tax Guide    
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Craziest tax write-offs you've ever heard of

2. Dog-ductions, part 1
What dog lover hasn't melted when man's best friend gives him that baleful look as he heads off to work? One taxpayer decided to create his own tax rule to ease the pain: "There is one individual who tried to deduct a day care expense for their dog," says Barghini. "The person was working and they didn't feel that the dog should be left alone, so they hired somebody to watch the dog, then tried to take a day care tax credit for the doggy-sitting. The dog clearly was an economic dependent, but not for tax purposes.

3. Now THAT'S a super!
Sure, it's easy to find bad things to say about landlords, but what about all the good things they do? Dittrick admits that while she liked the sentiment, she wasn't buying this landlord's story for a minute: "There was a guy who had rental property and tried to deduct a limousine charge in the year he got married by claiming that he had taken his renters out for a night on the town, when I knew that it was for the wedding," she says. "I ended up refusing to sign the return."

4. At that price, it should change diapers, too
CPA Ruth Ann Michnay of St. Paul, Minn., thought she might have been out of touch with maternity technology on this one: "I once had a young mother as a client who listed a breast pump at over $300," she says.

These days high-quality breast pumps can cost that much, but when the event took place years ago that was an outlandish price.

"My kids are grown up but I never remember them being that expensive, so my first reaction was that it must have been some medical situation with the child. You never know. But no, it was strictly for her convenience to operate. She was claiming it as a medical expense. I talked her out of it."

5. Dog-ductions, part 2
You think it's hard to find good help? Tell it to the IRS. Even the CPA source for this one wished to remain anonymous: "A landscaper who was under audit with the IRS had deducted the expense of their dog because he would pull the wagon on landscaping jobs. They felt he was out there helping. He may have been listed as an independent contractor."

6. Me, I'm a freelance food critic
There are those taxpayers who mistakenly believe that if their hobbies come anywhere close to their means of making a living, what they spend on it should be deductible as a business expense. And perhaps it is -- on Mars! New York CPA Alan J. Straus knew of a Hollywood set electrician who tried to write off the cost of buying and renting movie videos and DVDs, and a professor of Italian culture and European art who tried to deduct his theater and concert tickets.

Then again, sometimes what appears to be a flagrantly crazy write-off on paper will actually turn out to be permissible. Witness this unlikely deduction from Alan Dlugash, a CPA with the New York firm of Marks Paneth & Shron LLP: "A client not only tried to, but properly did deduct several thousands of dollars of comic book purchases. He was a university doctoral student, doing his thesis in his field of expertise ... having to do with the relationship of comic books to the societal values of the era." D'oh!

-- Posted: Jan. 1, 2007
 
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