Personal Finance 

6 Ridiculous Tax Writeoffs (That Didn’t Work)

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Even reality TV doesn’t give justice to the real world and the funny, eye popping, or jaw dropping events that happen every day that very few people hear about. If your job involves working with the general public in any capacity you probably have stories that all of us would love to hear but since it’s tax season, I scoured the internet to find what I thought were some of the most “unique” (how’s that for politically correct) tax stories worth telling.

And before you start laughing, remember that given what our tax rates our, it’s no surprise people are trying to reduce their liability – but claiming one of these ridiculous tax writeoffs is the wrong way to go about that!

The Condo

A lot of people have second homes, right? Especially if you’re one of those who likes Florida in the winter and northern states in the summer, two homes isn’t that odd. Bankrate tells the story of the tax professional who was meeting with a couple and ask the gentlemen about the mortgage interest for the condo in Utah. Judging by the wife’s face, she didn’t know that they owned a condo in Utah. You can fill in the blanks as far as who lived there.


We would all like to think that our hobbies are write offs but in most cases, they aren’t but that doesn’t stop people from trying. A New York CPA was working with a client who was a Hollywood set designer and naturally a big movie buff. According to him, buy and renting movies was research that related to his line of work. NOPE!

Depletion Allowance for That?

Unless you’re a mine, oil, or other business owner who loses money as more product is removed and sold, you probably don’t have any use for the depletion allowance. One man believed that he was entitled to the depletion allowance for one of his sources of income. He was a sperm donor.

The Livestock Deduction

A Texas rancher was audited by the IRS for expenses relating to 20 animals he had listed as breeding stock. The auditor asked him, “I assume you breed these animals yourself?” The old rancher answered, “No, I’ve got a bull for that.”

The Amish?

If you’re Amish, claiming your buggy as a work expense is far from out of the ordinary and in fact quite common. But what if the buggy got a pimp-my-ride style makeover? The Amish way of pimping a buggy may not include pinstripping, a few subs in the back seat, and an Xbox but this buggy had a velvet interior, tinted windows, kick plates, and like the pimped cars of today, some sweet hydraulics. Hydraulic brakes! The standard cost of the buggy was a writeoff but not the “extras.”

The Home Office

Home office deductions are complicated because you can only deduct the expenses that occur in the office. If the office is 10% of the total size of your home, you can only deduct 10% of the expenses. One person who worked from home wanted to deduct the cost of the toilet paper he used for his home as a home office expense. “You could do it”, said the person’s CPA, “ but you’ll need to know what percentage of each roll was an expense relating to your business”.

How about You?

Are you a tax professional? Post your funniest tax stories below. We can all use a good laugh at tax time.

{ 7 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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7 Responses to “6 Ridiculous Tax Writeoffs (That Didn’t Work)”

  1. Paul says:

    I don’t prepare other people’s taxes and I probably wouldn’t have written off the DVDs either… but still, for some reason I don’t find that one that ridiculous if his job is to make movies. Professionals get to deduct the cost of their continuing professional education, don’t they? I’m sure the guy got a few good ideas from seeing what others were doing.

    • Texas Wahoo says:

      I think the DVDs are a lot like work clothes. I only own suits because I need them for my job, but I am not allowed to deduct them because I can use them outside of the job. If he could prove that he purchased/rented all of his DVDs for work purposes (which would be extremely difficult to do), I bet they would have allowed the deduction.

  2. Arvin says:

    Yeah, that’s absolutely ridiculous that the DVD’s wouldn’t be considered a research expense. That’s the very definition of expense. The audit can’t possibly have been so granular as to have gone through his DVD receipts and saw how much those films could’ve contributed to the jobs they did (and of course, all the ones that they bid for but didn’t get the contract). I demand a citation that this was true!

  3. shiftomnimega says:

    I ask my dealers at the casino to attempt to claim their gambling expenses as a work expense. You know, research/training. Gotta know how to play to deal, right?

  4. That condo one is pretty good. 😀
    I don’t write off my home office because it’s such a tiny spot. It’s not worth the audit.

  5. Shirley says:

    An acquaintance lives alone and runs his business from his home. He is a Notary Public, sells insurance, repairs broken wiring in lamps, and lists his business name with his home address in advertisements in the yellow pages. He wanted to write off 50% of his total home and living expenses as business related. That included the payment for yard care and a weekly housekeeper. It did not fly with the IRS. 🙂

  6. timparker says:

    Yes, but there has to be a line somewhere. Should an architect be able to write off a European vacation with his wife because he was looking at the buildings? Should a software designer be allowed to write off his video games because he wanted to see the graphics rendering? How about a mechanic being able to write off a some portion of an auto purchase because he wanted to see how it worked?

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