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You may think it’s a deduction, but the government thinks otherwise

As you gather your records for your annual tax return, you may be wondering if some of your major purchases or even big-ticket daily expenses are deductible. Before you consult with your own tax attorney, you might want to consult the Minnesota Society of Certified Public Accountants’ list of items and activities that are generally not deductible.

Your baby grand piano. For most of us, a baby grand is a joy but not, alas, a deductible. There may be an exception for someone whose business includes providing piano lessons on that piano. 

Your gambling losses. If it is not a charitable donation, it cannot be deducted, and, unfortunately, none of the 11 tribes that own and operate casinos in Minnesota qualifies as a charity. Similarly, if you participated in the billion-dollar Power Ball drawing and came up empty, you cannot deduct the price of your tickets. This does not mean, however, that the state and the IRS don’t care about your gambling or lottery winnings.

Your boat. Minnesotans used to brag that there were more boats in this state than there were people. Remember, though, that taking clients down the St. Croix River or taking your boss for a sunset cruise of Lake Minnetonka makes your boat deductible as a business expense.

Your barn cat. Your cat may provide a valuable service by keeping the mice out of your barn, but you cannot deduct her food or her litter.

Your wedding. Invite your business associates at your own peril — and expense. It may be a smart career move, but it is not tax deductible.

Commuting. Your commute from Northfield to downtown Minneapolis may take some time, but it is not a business expense. Work-related trips may be, but traveling to and from your job are not.

It never hurts to keep a receipt, but don’t be too disappointed or too alarmed if the state or the IRS objects to some iffy deductions. It never hurts to ask, though — ask your attorney, that is.

Source: Accounting Today, “Most Outrageous Tax Deductions of 2016,” accessed Jan. 29, 2016

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