Calculating tax deductions might not be your cup of tea, but there’s a small shred of good news: This year, Emancipation Day—a Washington, DC-specific holiday—falls on a Saturday and therefore will be observed on Friday, April 15. Because government buildings will be closed that day, taxes won’t be due until Monday, April 18!
Still, we all pretty much dread filing our taxes. It somehow seems like we always owe more.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the strangest tax deductions that the IRS has allowed. Who knows? Maybe your bill will be lighter this year:
1. Lawn care and landscaping
Do you run your small business out of the comfort of your home? If so—and your company depends on the appearance of your property—you may be able to deduct lawn care and landscaping expenses from your taxes, according to Fox Business. This makes sense when you start to think about it: If clients have to come to your home, they may very well be turned off by an poorly maintained lawn.
2. Animal expenses—yes, for tax deductions!
You might think that there’s no chance you’d be able to deduct any animal-related expenses from your taxes, but you’d be wrong. Believe it or not, Turbo Tax says that business owners who use animals to protect their properties (e.g., “Beware of Dog!”) may be able to deduct a portion of the costs associated with caring for them from their taxes. Perhaps more sensibly, the IRS also says deductions are also awarded for organizations that raise service dogs or care for rescue animals.
3. Health-focused programs
If you’re a smoker who’s trying to quit, you’ll be happy to know that the IRS allows tax deductions for programs designed to help you kick the habit. The same does not apply, however, to non-prescription items (e.g., nicotine gums or patches). Additionally, you can deduct the expenses associated with weight loss programs, so long as you’re treating a specific disease.
4. Swimming pools
In the early 1970s, a New York man named Herbert Cherry, who had been a longtime smoker, was diagnosed with severe emphysema. Cherry was subsequently advised by his doctor to develop an exercise regimen to improve his breathing. The doctor recommended he swim, so Cherry built a pool on his property. Ultimately, because of the doctor’s order, a court ended up ruling that Cherry could deduct a large chunk of the expenses related to installing, insuring, and even heating the pool. This all according to Leagle.
5. “Business trips”
Of course you’re able to deduct any expenses you incur that are related to legitimate business trips. But you may also be able to deduct expenses related to what we’ll call “business trips”—if you’re shrewd about it. According to efile, a farmer went on an African safari to research wild animals. This, he argued, was critical to the success of his business. He was able to deduct the associated expenses. Similarly, according to CNN, an aspiring author was able to claim a $50,000 deduction because he wrote a book about his world travels—even though said book only sold 20 copies. What kinds of “business trips” could theoretically apply to your line of work? Answer the question, and you could be in for a nice deduction.
6. Tiny business gifts
According to the Christian Science Monitor, business owners are able to deduct business-related gifts on the basis of up to $25 per person. And if the gift you’re giving costs less than $4, you can give an unlimited amount of it—so long as it has your name on it (e.g., pens, pads, coffee mugs, etc.). A word to the wise: There probably aren’t that many people on Earth who would turn down a $25 Amazon card.
7. An iPhone
A terrible car accident made it considerably more difficult for one woman to remember things. She successfully argued that she needed her phone—which served as a personal assistant of sorts—so badly that the IRS has allowed it as a tax deduction, according to CNN. If you have a hard time remembering things, there may be tools that’ll help boost your memory that you can deduct as well.
Let’s hope at least one of these deductions applies to you.
In any case, may your tax season be as stress-free as possible!