Top Ten Strangest Tax Write-Offs

Top Ten Strangest Tax Write-Offs

by Stephanie Morrow, March 2007

Throughout the year, many taxpayers keep receipts of charitable donations, business expenses, and even vehicle mileage, for a lucrative tax write-off in April. However, many Americans may not realize that, in certain situations, breeding animals, breast augmentation, and even body oil can be a tax write-off. These are just some of the wacky tax write-offs that the IRS has allowed to be taken over the years:

Breast Implants

Although a simple nose job or tummy tuck is more than likely not deductible, certain types of cosmetic surgery may be a legitimate tax write-off if you can show that it is a necessity for your job. This was proven in the case of exotic dancer Cynthia Hess (a.k.a. "Chesty Love"), who sued the IRS in order to take a $2,088 tax deduction for her breast augmentation that left her with a size 56FF chest. Hess was allowed to take the tax write-off because her 20 pound breasts were used for the purposes of making money at an Indiana strip club, and were essentially looked at as a "stage prop."

Animal Depreciation

Depreciation has been widely popular for cars, homes, and computers, but how about animals? This was an acceptable form of depreciation for an ostrich farmer from St. Tammany Parish, who depreciated his ostrich. It just so happens that you can depreciate livestock as long as they are used for breeding.

Body Oil

Although the IRS denied a professional body builder's attempt to write off specialty foods and drinks, such as high-protein shakes and buffalo meat, the body builder was allowed to deduct "ProTan Muscle Juice Professional Posing Oil" as a business expense, because he applied it to his body prior to pumping up backstage "for optimum effects."

Cat Food

From travel expenses to animal boarding fees, the IRS has denied numerous attempts at writing off animal supplies. However, the tax court did allow a business to take a $300 business expense deduction for cat food that was used to attract wild cats, in order to prevent snakes and rats from the coming into the business' scrap yard.

Clarinet Lessons

The IRS approved a parent's write-off of her son's clarinet lessons as a medical expense. The parent claimed that playing the instrument was correcting the child's overbite and the IRS agreed.

And five that were good tries, but didn't make the IRS cut:

Consulting Fee for...Arson?

After numerous failed attempts to sell his business, a Pittsburgh furniture store owner hired an arsonist to make the business "disappear." The owner reported on his tax return the $500,000 he received from his insurance company for the fire. However, he also wrote off the $10,000 "consulting fee" he paid the arsonist. Not only did the owner get hit with $6,500 from the IRS in taxes, penalties, and interest, the owner, along with the arsonist, also received a jail sentence.

Dancing Lessons

Even though dancing is a great way to stay in shape, the IRS still denied a postal worker's write-off for dancing lessons as a medical expense. The postal worker claimed that the dancing was beneficial following surgery for varicose veins, but the court ruled against him.

Mink Coat

A couple was denied their write-off of a $2,500 mink coat as an ordinary business expense. Although the couple claimed the coat was needed for business involving public relations or advertising agents, the court denied the claim.


Believe it or not, there have been a few attempts to write off dentures on tax returns. In one case, an actor tried to take a business deduction for dentures because he claimed they enabled him to "enunciate without a hiss." In another attempt, a client for a Seattle CPA firm claimed his dentures as a deduction on his taxes because they fell into the toilet, which the client claimed was an "act-of-God casualty loss."


Probably one of the weirdest attempted write-offs was received by a Manhattan CPA who was approached by a man wishing to take a "depletion allowance" for sperm donations he had made throughout the year.

As for all tax issues, contact your tax professional for more information on acceptable write-offs.