Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Taxpayers Employ Strange Tactics to Keep Their Pennies

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Taxpayers Employ Strange Tactics to Keep Their Pennies

Article excerpt

You might feed him every day, give him a warm bed to sleep on, take care of his medical bills and even pay for special education classes, but Buster is not a dependent the IRS will recognize on your tax return.

So you might as well toss all those dog food receipts that you saved this year in the trash, accountants and tax specialists said.

"It's got to be the most common of the strange attempts to claim a deduction: listing a beloved pet as a child dependent," said Jim Nolen, vice president of the National Society of Accountants. Nolen has operated his own tax and accounting business in Del City for about 30 years. "We spend a fortune on our animals, after all. I know I do. - I've even seen clients try to deduct veterinary bills as part of their medical expenses. But you have to be a human."

Taxpayers have been trying to avoid paying the Internal Revenue Service since the first tax return was drafted, said David Stell, Oklahoma spokesman for the IRS. The truly sneaky shuffle funds between phantom accounts or try to dress up vacation cruises as business expenses.

Stell recalled one such manipulation no longer allowable under federal tax law. Married couples would get a divorce decree by Dec. 31 to take advantage of better standard deductions for individuals, and then remarry in January - a situation that almost ended in tragedy on an episode of The Love Boat television show.

The average taxpayer's logic starts to break down upon the discovery of a possible loophole, Stell said, or "opportunities for creative interpretation."

"For example, one taxpayer listed as a medical expense deduction an exercise bike," he recalled from his own experience as an agent. "I suppose it could have been, if it was prescribed by a medical doctor. But it turned out to be the cost of gas and oil for a motorcycle that his doctor suggested would help him relax and lessen the stress of his life. …

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