Tuesday, January 31, 2017

1040 Follies

As January winds down, I, like many of you I’m sure, have been slowly receiving assorted tax documents in preparation for my annual sit-down with Rocco – my accountant for the last 27 years.

Rocco usually manages to find my wife and me a small refund, provided my deductions are within the parameters of reality. In the 12 years I spent covering the accounting profession, each January I would compile what I considered an entertaining list of outrageous attempts for tax deductions that most filers wouldn’t be within three area codes of considering.

And somehow every year, some not only stretched the boundaries of credulity but were so out there I’m guessing both the filers and their accountants were sharing large quantities of prescription pharmaceuticals as they prepared their 1040s.

So without further ado here’s my abbreviated roster of what I view as the most outrageous deduction attempts of the past year.

Warning: do not try these at home.
  1. One man attempted to deduct a “consulting fee.” Okay that’s fairly commonplace, but the “fee” was actually paid to an arsonist whom he hired to burn down his failing business. The IRS took such a dim view that both were sent to prison.
  2. A competitive bodybuilder attempted to write off the cost of pricey buffalo meat claiming it enhanced his hulking physique and therefore was essential to his livelihood. The IRS got a severe case of indigestion and disallowed it.
  3. A realtor tried to deduct the cost of a ride on lawnmower, which he used to mow the grass at his for sale properties. The Service quickly trimmed that one.
  4. A California transplant to Minnesota deducted the cost of a winter coat and a snow blower. First of all why someone would trade the warm climate of California for a state with 10,000 lakes, legions of mosquitos and a summer where your sled occasionally hits a rock, is beyond me. The deduction, like the filer was quickly frozen out.
  5. And lastly with the big game coming up, there are always multiple attempts to deduct the cost of the Super Bowl. One businessman decided to ferry both clients and spouses to the game but when asked to prove its relevance to business, he couldn’t score. The IRS flagged him with a flagrant foul.

I guess I’m pretty pedestrian when it comes to itemized deductions but I just learned that my mother-in-law is flying up to stay with us for two weeks.

I’ll have to ask Rocco if I can legally deduct stress relief sessions and a psych consult.

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