Hysterical Tax Excuses: Could They Work For You?

picture to accompany article about tax excusesTax authorities in the United Kingdom recently compiled a list of “weird and wonderful” tax excuses and deduction attempts from years past. Would any of these fly in Chicago? Let’s take a look.

Tax Excuses

“My Mother-In-Law Is A Witch And Cursed Me”

A new twist on the dog-ate-my-homework excuse, someone in the United Kingdom tried to slink out of filing penalties by claiming that his mother-in-law put a hex on him. (No word if her name was Jeanie.) The U.K. tax authorities got a good chuckle but didn’t accept the excuse — neither would their US tax counterparts.

“DJ Too Busy Partying In A Club”

Under some circumstances, people with legitimate work or personal conflicts can avoid late-filing fees by submitting an extension request. That said, “too busy partying” will not cut muster with the IRS or Illinois Department of Revenue, just as it didn’t with Her Majesty’s tax agency.

“I Want to Deduct Pet Food For A Shih Tzu Guard Dog”

Shih Tzu dogs fall squarely into the designer category; most can fit comfortably in a tote. Guard dogs they are not! Nevertheless, someone once tried to deduct their Shih Tzu’s food as security costs.

To be fair, there are instances when pet-related expenses can be deducted from taxable income calculations. For example, people who own pet business may be able to deduct certain animal-related costs. The same goes for companies that have an animal mascot that figures prominently in their brand. But trying to write off the family pet is a non-starter.

“A Music Subscription So I can Listen to Music While I Work”

We give it to the person who tried to deduct their monthly Spotify subscription because they listened to music while they worked. Sure, we all like to make our work environments as pleasant as possible, but sorry freelancers, you can’t deduct streaming services because you keep it on during the day as background noise. If, however, the streaming service is needed for research (example: film or tv critic), deducting the cost may be possible.

According to the IRS:

“To be deductible, a business expense must be both ordinary and necessary. An ordinary expense is one that is common and accepted in your trade or business. A necessary expense is one that is helpful and appropriate for your trade or business. An expense does not have to be indispensable to be considered necessary.”

“I’ve Been Cruising on my Yacht and Only Pick up Post When on Dry Land”

Unless you were legitimately and unexpectedly stranded at sea, arguing that yacht cruising prevented you from meeting the tax deadline isn’t going to work. Tax authorities will work with taxpayers who experience unexpected hardships that genuinely prevent filing, but partying on a yacht — or anywhere else for that matter — doesn’t rank.

“My Hamster Ate It”

Instead of the family dog, one taxpayer in the United Kingdom tried to blame it on the family hamster. This excuse didn’t work in elementary school, and it doesn’t work with the IRS either!

“$4.50 for Sausage and Chip Meal Expenses for 250 Days”

Can you expense all meals if you work while you eat? In a word: No! In years past, taxpayers could deduct certain business meals, but those rules changed under the 2017 tax overhaul. Now, there are tighter restrictions on business entertainment deductions. But even before the change, it was never OK to deduct every meal!

Consult with a Chicago Tax Lawyer

Every year, millions of people pay more taxes than required because they neglect to leverage all the available deductions and credits. At Gordon Law Group, we help people save money on their taxes. Our team works with individuals and businesses, and our track record speaks for itself.

Get in touch today! You don’t need tax excuses. We’ll show you compliant ways to make sure money stays in your pocket, not the government’s. Let’s talk. Find out why our clients rate us 10 out of 10 on respected lawyer review website AVVO.com.

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