These Are the Coolest Tax Deductions You're Missing Out On
Hepcats across the country are getting ready for one of the most square activities out there: filing taxes. But, don’t worry: You can still keep your sense of style even as you’re preparing your return by making some cool tax deductions that will help you save more of that hard-earned scratch for sunglasses and leather jackets. If you qualify for some of these deductions, you might want to consider itemizing on your next tax return.
Lathering yourself in body oil
Luxuriating in body oil might not seem like something you can write off, but if you’re a bodybuilder, there’s a precedent. That’s because one bodybuilder -- Corey L. Wheir -- successfully argued that the body oil he needed to rub all over himself prior to competitions was a business expense and could be deducted from his taxes. He also got the tax courts to approve a deduction for the 3 pounds of bison meat he was consuming each day, so it sounds like quite the party at the Wheir household.
Shopping 'til you drop
Check this out: Your wild shopping sprees are tax-deductible. Or, at least, some of them are. That’s because you can deduct the cost of sales tax. Sales taxes are collected at the state level, so they can be included in your deductions for state and local taxes. Just be aware that you can’t deduct both sales tax expenses and income or property tax expenses, so you should only make this deduction when you’ve paid more in sales tax to the state than you did in other taxes.
Sweet Vegas vacations
There’s good news about the beating that you took at the tables the last time you were in Sin City: It’s tax-deductible. That’s right, you can write off your gambling losses on your taxes. There is a major caveat, though: It only applies to any taxes you’ve paid on gambling winnings. So, if you did have a successful trip followed by a bad one, you can at least recover some of those losses.
That pool you need for your health
You can deduct the costs of your swimming pool -- if you can make the case that it’s essential to your health. That was the case for Herbert Cherry, a Muttontown, N.Y., man suffering from emphysema who successfully argued that the backyard pool would be used for exercise that his doctor suggested would relieve his symptoms. He was able to secure deductions for the cost of operating and maintaining it.
There might not be a more glorious combination of two words in the English language, and the IRS is ready to acknowledge this. That’s right, you can get a tax deduction for giving away beer in specific contexts. The main case in question involved a gas station owned by Edward J. and Judy A. Sullivan that gave away beer as a way to attract customers. The owner argued that it was a business expense as he was using the beer for marketing, and won the right to deduct its cost.
Expressing yourself, even when it's not your job
Plenty of aspiring artists work in adjacent fields while they’re trying to make a living with their passion, and if that’s the case, you can deduct the costs of your passion from your total income. The key case was that of Professor Susan Crile, who made modest amounts of money from her work as an artist while relying on a teaching position for her primary source of income. The tax court ultimately ruled that she could deduct her costs for painting from her entire income as business expenses because she could prove that she was, in fact, a professional artist despite primarily working as a teacher.
Living the dream
Of course, some people might feel like teaching will interfere with their Bohemian aesthetic. After all, what’s cooler than being a starving artist? You’re living your life for the craft and answering to no one -- including the IRS. That’s because there’s a rare “above the line” deduction, meaning that you can claim it even if you don’t itemize, for creative artists who have at least two full-time employers paying them at least $200 a year.
You can’t be paid a whole lot more than that, though. You can’t claim the deduction if you earned more than $16,000.
Kicking it, Ahab style
Call him Ishmael. Just don’t call him a tax cheat.
Up to $10,000 in expenses associated with being a whaling captain are deductible on your taxes as a charitable contribution. Of course, whaling is very much illegal for almost everyone, but a select group of Native American tribes have an exemption based on their cultural traditions and even have access to specified tax benefits for the practice. You just need to be recognized by the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission as a whaling captain carrying out sanctioned whaling activities.
So, if you’re a member of one of those tribes and seeking revenge for that “on-the-job injury” that led to the loss of your leg, you’re technically giving to charity while you do it as far as the IRS is concerned.
Getting yourself clean
If your go-go lifestyle has gotten a little, well, overly go-go, you can deduct the cost of getting yourself back on the right track. Your trip to rehab is tax-deductible, so getting clean doesn’t have to mean taking too big of a hit financially. Of course, rehab is a pretty good call regardless of whether it’s deductible, so maybe don’t overthink this one.
Just being yourself
Of course, one of the biggest deductions you can claim is available for doing one of the coolest things possible: being yourself. Regardless of the details of your life and business, the standard deduction is available for everyone and almost double in this coming tax year. So, if you’re skimming these other deductions and not seeing anything that applies to you, don’t worry, the IRS has you covered.
Click through to read more about tax loopholes that the rich don’t want you to know.
(By Joel Anderson)