10 Creative (But Legal) Tax Deductions


Animal Expenses

dog, vet
If your pets qualify as a business expense, then costs associated with their care can be deducted on your taxes. Monty Rakusen/Getty Images

Dog food is a serious expense, especially if you own a fat dog. So pet owners can be excused for looking for any possible deduction come tax time. But even though our pets perform many important services for us -- chasing squirrels off the lawn, eating the leftovers under the baby's high chair -- few of them qualify as professional service animals. If you do have a medical condition that can be helped by a service animal, though, then all pet expenses above 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income are deductible [source: IRS].

Under certain conditions, your pet might qualify as a business expense. Let's say you own a farm and your cats perform a critical service as rat and mouse hunters that protect your stored grain. Or you own a junkyard and your dog is the best alarm system money can buy. In both of those cases, you may be able to deduct at least a portion of your pets' "maintenance" costs as a business expense [source: Bird].

And then there's the case of the California "cat lady" who successfully wrote off her cat food as a charitable expense. No, she wasn't making charitable contributions to the cats. She argued in tax court that she was taking care of the cats for a nonprofit organization that found foster homes for feral animals. Even though the IRS denied the deductions, the tax court judge ruled in her favor [source: Saunders].

There are new changes to the next tax deduction that impact residents from Florida to Washington state.