5 Surprising Expenses Individuals Can Write Off

Surprising Write-offs for Individuals Filing Their Federal Taxes

  • Swimming Pools
  • Service Dogs and Their Supplies
  • Pet Business Activities
  • Music Lessons
  • Prescription Weight Loss Aids

A person who is earning a degree or certification as an accountant may wonder about the most surprising expenses that individuals can write off on their federal income tax returns. The process of filing a tax return is notoriously complicated, and the long tax code of the United States often has some hidden gems. Being familiar with these five surprising expenses that a person can write off could help an accountant provide better service to their clients.

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1. Swimming Pools

Swimming pools, hot tubs, and saunas may qualify for a write-off if they are a medical expense. If a doctor has prescribed the use of a pool, sauna or hot tub for treatment after an injury or for a chronic condition, it would qualify as a medical expense. The condition and prescription must be documented on the tax filing.

2. Service Dogs and Their Supplies

People who have a prescription for a service dog can deduct the cost of the dog, its care and supplies as a medical expense. This includes the dog’s veterinary care, service vest, leash, food, and grooming. The training of the dog can also be deducted as a medical expense.

3. Pet Business Activities

Grumpy Cat was a well-known internet sensation that turned into a small business for the cat’s human servants. A person whose pet becomes a small business could deduct their pet’s expenses if they can prove that the pet’s activities are the small business managed by the owners. The Internal Revenue Service offers a nine-question quiz on making this determination between a hobby and a small business. If the pet’s activities are indeed a small business enterprise, then the owners may be able to deduct relevant expenses. Those expenses could include veterinary care, food, internet service, web hosting for the small business website and equipment used for creating videos for the small business.

4. Music Lessons

Way back in 1962, an individual attempted to deduct the cost of their child’s clarinet and clarinet lessons, citing a prescription from the child’s orthodontist that the instrument and lessons would help with the correction of the child’s overbite. The Internal Revenue Service allowed the deduction and added a provision for it. Both the cost of the instrument and the recurring expense of the lessons were allowed as a medical expense. It is not clear whether or not the federal tax authorities would allow other woodwind instruments to qualify for the same tax deduction.

5. Prescription Weight Loss Aids

According to CNBC, individuals may be able to write off the cost of prescription weight loss aids. The write-off should only be for the amount that is not covered by the individual’s health insurance. The weight loss aids must be prescribed by the patient’s doctor and used to treat a specific illness. A flexible spending account or healthcare reimbursement account can also be used to cover the out-of-pocket costs for prescribed weight loss aids.

The United States tax code is so complicated that even seasoned accountants are frequently surprised by what can be written off on an individual’s tax returns. It is a good idea for accountants to read up on the changes each year so that they can ensure their clients get all of the deductions allowed by the Internal Revenue Service. Knowing about these five surprising expenses individuals can write off on their taxes could help accountants save their clients a tidy sum of money.