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Odd Rejected and Allowed Tax Deductions


People can get pretty creative during itemized tax deductions. Most often the IRS denies the claim, but there are some creative ones that have been allowed.

Itemized tax deductions can get pretty interesting with people getting creative on what they’re trying to claim. Either they’ll get lucky and the IRS will actually deduct the expense, or the claim will be denied.

And the IRS denies a lot of claims. Mostly, this happens when people try to claim things like casualty loss when the family pet breaks some dishes. However, the IRS has let a few unusual ones slide over the years.

H&R Block’s Block Talk blog listed a handful of bizarre tax deductions, some of which the IRS allowed, but most of which were denied.


5. Organic food

Actually, this one wasn’t so wacky. The difference between the cost of the organic food and regular chemically-treated food was allowed as a medical deduction. The IRS will allow special deductions for food intolerances, which is good news for those who can’t eat gluten.

4. Boarding schools

This deduction was also medically relevant. The parents were allowed to deduct travel, room and board as medical expenses for sending a child with respiratory issues to a boarding school in Arizona.

3. Posing oil

Seeing as the taxpayer was a professional bodybuilder, he or she was allowed a business deduction. However, the same person wasn’t allowed to deduct buffalo meat and vitamin shakes.

2. Clarinet lessons

The purpose of the lessons wasn’t just to create a well-rounded child — instead, it was to held with the child’s overbite. As a result, the cost of both the instrument and the lessons were allowed as medical deductions.

1. Cat food

This was allowed as a business expense, but the taxpayer in question didn’t own a pet store, but a scrap yard. The purpose of the cat food was to actually lure wild cats to the yard, which would then deter snakes from coming around.


5. Salad

It may seem like if something could be claimed as needed for medical reasons, then the IRS will allow it, but that’s not the case. A diabetic on a restricted diet was not allowed to deduct the cost of lettuce and tomatoes or the costs of artificial sweeteners and reduced-salt foods.

4. Dentures

Speaking clearly and enunciating words is understandably important for an actor. However, the IRS did not allow the taxpayer to deduct the cost of the false teeth as a business deduction — even if they did remove that hiss.

3. Memory theft

The taxpayer claimed her landlord had illegally removed these items and other memories from storage and thrown them away. Unfortunately, the IRS was not sympathetic.

2. English Setter

The taxpayer claimed a casualty loss deduction when the dog ran away. In another dog-related case, the IRS denied dog boarding costs as a business (travel) expense while the taxpayer was away from home.

1. Arson

While some of the other deductions rejected can be seen as possibly having a claim to make, that was not the case here. A store owner had paid an arsonist to burn down his store. After reporting the insurance as income, he then deducted the $10,000 he paid to the arsonist, claiming it as a “consulting fee.”

He was denied. He also admitted what he had done to the IRS on audit.

Do you itemize any unique deductions? Have any been denied?

Read more:

Strangest Tax Deduction Hall of Fame on H&R Block

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Victor J. Dzau, MD, gives expert advice
Victor J. Dzau, MD, gives expert advice