April 15, 2014 -- intro: It's April 15, time to assess whether your 2013 federal tax bill was too high. You may be surprised to learn that the IRS allows tax breaks for some unusual reasons. With the help of Laura Scherler from MyFreeTaxes, we made this list of offbeat tax write-offs. And remember that you can file an amended return if, per chance, you overlooked one of these this year.
title: Sex-Change Operations
text: Individuals diagnosed with gender-identity disorder, where individuals experience strong discomfort with one’s assigned sex and persistently identify with the opposite gender, can file for tax deductions for a sex-change operation and additional hormone therapy.
Expenses for breast augmentations, however, cannot be considered for tax deductions, according to the IRS, because these are cosmetic surgeries and are not essential to the general improvement of one’s health.
In the case of Robert Donovan, a male who wanted approximately $22,000 in tax deductions as a result of out-of-pocket medical expenses, the tax court did in fact award him $14,500 for his hormone treatments and surgery.
title: Significant Others
text: Couples who can claim their significant other as a dependent can also use them as a tax break. In order to do so, couples must have lived together for an entire tax year and the significant other must have an annual salary of less than $3,900. Also, the individual claiming the tax break must show they have paid for more than half of their significant other’s expenses.
A total of $3,900 can be claimed if all the qualifications are met.
Wes Fuco had supported his girlfriend, Danielle Wissbroeker for more than 10 years. Wissbroeker took care of their three children but earned no income. This tax break, paired with Fuco’s ability to claim his children as dependents, allowed Fuco to receive more than $8,000 each year for the 10 years he was with Wissbroeker.
text: Babysitting expenses may also be used as tax deductions if a child’s mother is performing charitable deeds during the time she is away.
Generally, babysitters are considered as personal expenses. However, a mom challenged this when she deducted payments for child care expenses when she was volunteering for a qualified organization. The tax court ended up supporting her claim by overruling the initial IRS decision against her.
title: Lawn Care
text: If the home and the workplace are one and the same, tax deductions can be made for paintings and repairs, utilities and lawn care.
In order to claim that one’s home is also one’s workplace, part of the home must fall under one of the IRS’ requirements. It must be a place completely set aside exclusively for business purposes. This does not include bedrooms that double as studios or occasionally working from home.
If the office occupies 10 percent of the home, tax deductions for paintings, repairs and utilities can only be applied to 10 percent of the utilities.
If an individual is able to demonstrate that the state of their lawn has some relevance to the performance of their business, then one can receive tax deductions for any landscaping costs. This includes showing a lawn if an individual is part of a lawn-care business.
title: Sport Utility Vehicles
text: Entrepreneurs can also get a tax break if they can claim their SUV is pertinent to their business. SUVs like Chevrolet Silverados or the Ford F Series must be over 6,000 pounds in order for a person to receive a deduction on its full purchase price.
Initially this rule was intended for small farmers who purchase heavy machinery. The rule has since changed to prevent self-employed professionals such as doctors and lawyers from taking advantage of it. Now one must file a corporate tax return to claim this deduction.