If you’re like most people, you do your best to claim as many deductions as possible to reduce your yearly tax bill. You may have even stretched the rules a little once or twice, convincing yourself that an expense surely counts as work-related when deep down you know better. Though actions like this can get you in trouble, they’re certainly not uncommon.
We spoke to tax accountants in Sydney, San Francisco, London, and other major cities around the world to find out just how wacky people can get with the deductions they try to claim. Of course, the stories they shared were general, and no identifying information was revealed. Here are the strangest ones we heard:
1. Pets – The most common illegal tax deductions
Let’s start with the illegal tax trick every accountant told us about – claiming pets as dependents. While your furry friend certainly is dependent on you, and you may think of them as family, that doesn’t mean you can get away with adding them to your tax return. Unfortunately, all those chew toys, cute costumes, and worming treatments will have to come out of your own pocket. The tax department isn’t interested in giving you any tax credits for your non-human dependents!
2. Tattoos and piercings – No, they’re not medical expenses
Just because needles and surgical gloves were involved, doesn’t mean you can claim your latest body modification as a medical expense. Still, people from all over the world are trying to claim these costs back on their tax returns. If you’re in doubt about whether you can claim an expense like this or not, your best bet is to consult a certified accountant. Trying your luck is likely to land you with an audit (and possibly a hefty sum to pay back at the end of it).
3. Extravagant “business meetings” – Pay for your own helicopter rides
From yachting trips and helicopter rides to spa days and Vegas trips, people have tried to claim some pretty crazy things as necessary for attending business meetings. Unfortunately, we’re yet to encounter a tax department that has a sense of humor about such extravagant claims. Instead, they’re likely to flag your tax return for further investigation – something no one wants.
4. Plastic surgery – If it’s not medically necessary, don’t even try
Some people feel like they need to change their appearance to be taken seriously in their industry. Regardless of whether there’s any truth to their beliefs or not, the tax department doesn’t care. Any procedures done for purely aesthetic reasons aren’t claimable.
Plastic surgery is only ever claimable as a medical expense if you have documented proof that it was strictly medically necessary. Procedures that can sometimes be claimed include breast reduction, septoplasty to correct a deviated septum, and feminization surgery. If you’ve got a procedure booked and you’re unsure about whether you can claim it or not, your best bet is to talk to your surgeon and your accountant.
5. Weddings – There are better places for business meetings
More than one person has tried to claim the cost of a wedding back on taxes. They invite a few clients along, come up with some reason why it was necessary to talk shop there and try to write it off as a business-related entertainment expense. An auditor might find this amusing, but that wouldn’t stop them from marking it as an illegal tax deduction.
There you have it – five of the most outlandish tax deductions people have ever claimed. Would you dare to include any of them on your tax return?