If the Internal Revenue Service reflected real American values, gym membership would be a legitimate medical expense, clothing could be depreciated as it goes out of style and your cat could be listed as a dependent.
With April 15 looming, I'm reminded of one of Homer Simpson's legendary meltdowns:
"OK, I need some deductions," he says, addressing his wife and children. "Marge, if anyone asks, you require 24-hour nursing care, Lisa's a clergyman, Maggie is seven people and Bart was wounded in Vietnam."
If you're rushing to file your tax returns and you've got some strange questions for your accountant, don't be afraid. I asked a few professionals about the most unusual deductions they've been asked about. Maybe this list can shed some light -- and save you some money.
I hasten to add that I haven't mailed in my tax returns yet, and the deductions listed here -- though offered by prominent certified public accountants -- shouldn't take the place of consulting a professional tax preparer.
In other words: If you get called before the IRS, don't drag me along.
1. You can deduct baby oil, if you're strong enough. Even if you're on your feet all day, the baby oil you rub on your swollen tootsies at the end of the day can't be deducted as a business expense. However, if you're a professional bodybuilder -- and you grease up your body for big shows -- you've got a legitimate write-off.
"Looks count in a lot of jobs. But generally, your work clothes and dry cleaning bills aren't an allowable business expense," says John Q. Rodgers, a tax lawyer and CPA in Hermosa Beach, Calif. "It's a little different, however, when you are an entertainer. If your body needs to glisten to be in a show, that's part of your expense of doing business."
Rodgers says he's advised dancers to deduct body-waxing and other procedures considered to be a professional necessity.
2. Don't attempt a "bad dog" deduction. If your car gets totaled in a hurricane, you can deduct its value as the loss of a personal asset. But if your pooch knocks over a chest and destroys your fine china and glassware, the IRS has no pity.
"A loss like this has to be unexpected, and a dog is theoretically expected to sometimes misbehave," says Kathy Burlison of H&R Block in Kansas City.
Of course, teenagers misbehave, too, and in some cases, the IRS is more compassionate. "If your kid wrecks the car, you can deduct the car's value," Burlison says. "It's inconsistent in that way, because as you know, a teenager can be just as out of control as a pet."
3. Nose jobs can be business expenses. Michael Jackson's nose job could be considered a professional deduction if the singer claimed he needed the surgery to reach the high notes on his tax return.
In the 2003 "Living With Michael Jackson" documentary, the "King of Pop" claimed he's had only one nose job -- and that was done to help clear his nasal passage when he sang.
To Cincinnati tax preparer Ed Lyon of Taxtuneup.com, Jackson missed a write-off if he didn't claim that procedure. "I'd suggest any singer in that situation to do that," he says.
4. It's OK to make use of your breast assets. Normally, cosmetic surgery is not deductible. However, if you get breast implants, you won't be turned down flat -- as long as they're especially large implants and you can prove you need them for work.