The most outrageous tax deductions of 2017

Published
  • January 29 2017, 1:31pm EST
There are a number of reasons taxpayers hire professionals to prepare their returns – and one of the best is to prevent them from trying to claim truly ridiculous things in their filings.

With that in mind, the Minnesota Society of CPAs surveys its members every year to find out the strangest tax deductions that clients have tried to claim over the past year – and here are the most recent results.

There are a number of reasons taxpayers hire professionals to prepare their returns – and one of the best is to prevent them from trying to claim truly ridiculous things in their filings.

With that in mind, the Minnesota Society of CPAs surveys its members every year to find out the strangest tax deductions their clients have tried to claim over the past year – and here are the most recent results.

1. Riding lawn mower

A real estate agent tried to deduct a riding lawn mower for, apparently, the sole use of “trimming” the grass around for sale signs on their listed properties. That’s a bad pitch.

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2. Hunting property

A client in the sporting goods industry wanted to deduct their hunting property. Claiming that could put a target on a taxpayer’s back for the IRS.

3. Claiming the family pet

No matter how ferocious a taxpayer’s pooch may be, it’s not deductible as a security expense unless they have a legitimate junkyard dog. That means no food, vet visits or leather paw covers will work as deductions. Also, pets cannot be claimed as dependents.

4. Pop-up deduction

One CPA had a client who wanted to deduct a pop-up camper as a business expense because the owner wanted to claim it as a construction trailer. The CPA deflated the idea.

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5. Graduation party

Business contacts attending a personal event, like a graduation party or wedding, doesn’t make it a business expense. Really, you can’t have your cake and eat it, too.

6. Winter coat and snow blower

One can easily argue all the merits of moving to and living in Minnesota. Snow might be a harder argument, but even so, the cost of a winter coat and snow blower do not count as moving expenses, as one California transplant attempted.

7. Sturgis, baby

A motorcycle enthusiast went to the world-famous Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and wore a company T-shirt with a logo on it under his leathers. Unfortunately, it doesn’t qualify as an advertising expense. Better ride off into the sunset with that scheme.

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8. Grandchild’s private school tuition

As nice as it sounds, paying for a grandchild’s tuition is not a charitable donation. Better study up for next year.

9. Cosmetic enhancements

From augmentations and hair salons, to tanning booths and manicures, these are generally not deductible, despite what many clients have tried to claim.

10. Chainsaw donation

One client donated a chainsaw to a children’s hospital. No, it didn’t make the cut for charitable donations.