20 Overlooked and Unusual Tax Deductions You May Be Eligible For

Those of us completing our tax returns this year may be scrambling to find some of the more obscure, hidden tax deductions to help us get a better refund, asking ourselves crazy questions: Can quitting smoking save you money on taxes? Can you claim pets on your taxes? What about all of the strange costs that can come with raising kids? We’ve created an unusual tax deductions list of random write-offs that you may qualify for, depending on your situation. See if you can use any of these!

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20 Overlooked and Unusual Tax Deductions You May Be Eligible For


Deduction (and Category) Description
Guard Dog If your dog guards your business location, you may be able to deduct pet care costs. Size and breed are considered. Keep record of the dog’s hours.
Pest Control Cat If your cat keeps your business location free of mice and rats, cat food may be deductible. Cats must be common and accepted in your trade or business.
Foster Pet or Shelter Volunteering If you foster animals, you may be eligible for tax benefits for charitable contributions. If you volunteer at a shelter, keep track of trip mileage.
Service Animal You may be able to deduct expenses for service animals; they must be trained to do work or perform tasks for disabled individuals.
Moving a Pet If you’re relocating for work, you can deduct pet moving costs.

Parenting + Lifestyle

Deduction (and Category) Description
Clarinet Lessons for Children Clarinet lessons can qualify as a medical expense because they may help correct a misaligned bite, according to orthodontists.
Summer or Sports Camp If both parents are working, it may be possible to deduct summer day camp or sports camps.
Leftover Wedding Items If you donate decorations, flowers, leftover food, or attire (including your wedding dress!) from your wedding, you may be eligible for a charitable deduction.
Paying Wages to Kids If you pay your kids a fair wage, you can deduct it as a business expense from your business’s income. This can also lower your income tax bracket.
Energy-Efficient Upgrades Home upgrades like energy-efficient windows or installing more insulation may make you eligible for a small tax credit.

Career and Finance

Deduction (and Category) Description
Specialized Work Clothes Upkeep of costumes and uniforms can be deducted if they are a requirement for work and not suitable for general wear.
Lifetime Learning The Lifetime Learning Credit can provide up to $2,000 a year toward education expenses after high school.
First Job Moving Expenses If you move for a first job, you are eligible for a deduction on moving expenses, especially if you drive your own vehicle more than 50 miles.
State Tax Paid Last Year If you owed on state taxes last year, be sure to include that amount with your state tax itemized deduction for this year’s taxes.
Jury Pay Given to Employer If your employer asks for your jury duty reimbursement, you can deduct the amount so you aren’t taxed on money that just passes through you.
Whaling Ship Repair Whaling captains can claim up to $10,000 for ship repairs and equipment. Only Native Americans are permitted to be whalers.


Deduction (and Category) Description
Swimming Pool If you have a medical condition doctors believe can be improved by a swimming regimen, like arthritis, the expenses of a pool could be deductible.
Quitting Smoking Smoking cessation programs, nicotine patches, stop-smoking aids, etc., may be eligible for a write-off.
Pregnancy Tests The cost of pregnancy tests can be deducted, even without physician administration.
Losing Weight The cost of weight loss programs such as Weight Watchers, if ordered by a doctor, may be deducted.

As it turns out, the answer is yes … sometimes! Pets can qualify as one of those little-known tax deductions that many people would be eligible for, but most don’t realize are an option. You can claim a pet if it’s a service animal, which must be trained to perform tasks for disabled individuals. If you’ve fostered a pet or volunteered at a shelter, you can chalk that up as charitable contributions. On the other hand, pets might qualify as unusual business expenses if you use your pet as a guard dog at your business location or if you use your cat for pest control at your business (if it were common and accepted in your trade). Lastly, if you’ve relocated, add the expense of moving a pet to your list of tax write-offs.

What are some medical things that are tax-deductible?

With some creative tax deductions, the expensive things we do for our health can have an additional benefit. If you make responsible health decisions like quitting smoking, you may be eligible for a deduction under some interesting federal laws on health. If you took a pregnancy test or lost weight under a doctor’s orders using costly but proven programs like Weight Watchers, you can also include that expense. Even on the obscure tax write-off list is the cost of a swimming pool; if swimming helps a medical condition, the cost of a pool might be deductible. Another weird one is for children with a misaligned bite: Deduct the cost of clarinet lessons, as they’ve been proven to help with orthodontic issues!

Out of the more bizarre tax deductions, are there more that may apply to an average person?

We’ve all seen a list of tax deductions that are crazy but also legitimate due to strange federal laws, but the cost of whaling, for instance, may not apply to you. On the other hand, many people might end up with leftover wedding items, send their kid to a sports camp, or make an energy-efficient upgrade in their home, all of which are allowable tax write-offs. If you pay your kids a fair allowance, it may count as unusual business expenses. If you had jury duty pay, paid state taxes, moved away for your first job, bought a work uniform, or got an education outside of high school, you might also qualify!

Disclaimer: Check out your expenses on your own or use an expert; don’t only rely on this list to get deductions, as there’s plenty of fine print with all things. Also, there are plenty of other weird, funny situations in which strange deductions are plausible: If you’re a hairstylist or farmer, you might qualify for all sorts of things!