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Craziest tax write-offs you've ever heard of

7. Dog-ductions, part 3
Barghini had one enterprising client who believed he'd found a doggone great way to boost his charitable deduction and thus shave a little off his taxes. "An individual who bred dogs was looking for a tax deduction, so he thought that he would give one of his dogs to the Humane Society and take a deduction for it. They were valuable dogs but he bred it, so he could not take a tax deduction for it." The reason? Barghini explains that the tax code allows you to depreciate over time such breeding stock as cattle, race horses and yes, even show dogs, provided you are breeding them with the intent to sell the offspring. In these instances, you may depreciate the breeding male or female, but not the offspring.

8. Clothes (deductions) make the man
Here's a line of thought we've all tried on at one time or another: I have to look professional at work so why shouldn't I deduct the cost of my suits, shoes and ties? And of course that is perfectly allowable -- on Uranus! Here on Earth however, a less generous tax rule applies, as one of Barghini's clients found out: "I was dealing with a male model who wanted to write off his entire wardrobe because he needed to look good all the time. There are very strict rules about writing off clothing. Basically, if you are required to wear a uniform of a nature that you're not going to wear it out in public socially, such as an auto mechanic's blue jumpsuit with a patch that says 'John' or nursing clothes, you can write them off. It's basically clothes that you're only going to wear at work; you'd be embarrassed to go to the bar in them. If it's clothes that you can wear on a daily basis, you cannot write them off. Businessmen or businesswomen trying to write off their suits will not fly."

9. Pimp my buggy
This one was so outlandish that Dittrick actually faxed us the two-page itemized receipt to prove it: "We live in an Amish community here and we had an Amish guy who tried to take a deduction for his buggy with velvet interior, the whole works. It was tricked out. He was legitimately Amish, but with all the accoutrements on this buggy, when they're supposed to live the simple life, it was absolutely hilarious," she says.

How pimped out was his ride? According to the receipt, this baby came equipped with dash lights, kick plates, tinted windshield, speedometer, hydraulic brakes and dimmer switches. The standard buggy costs $2,675; this pimped-out version ran $3,545.

"He could deduct the buggy of course, since it was used for business, but on that one, we had to pick and choose what we were going to deduct," Dittrick says. "But the Amish teenagers do go through a period where they sow their wild oats, so to speak, and put the fuzzy dice and boom boxes in them. Every so often in the police blotters up here you'll see a complaint about a buggy with music playing."

Jay MacDonald is a contributing editor based in Mississippi.

-- Posted: Jan. 1, 2007
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