Unless you’re an accountant—maybe—tax season probably isn’t your favorite time of year. Once the new year begins, people dread the thought of pouring over receipts in search of deductions. But for itemized deductions, once you get over the initial unease, you might find that reviewing last year’s expenses with a fine-toothed comb could yield deductions that net you a refund. Check out these unusual tax breaks that may reduce your total taxes owed to the IRS.

Pet parents

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Being a fur parent is a big responsibility, but these deductions can make it more affordable.

Moving your pet

Relocating for work is hard enough, but you can experience sticker shock if that move includes Fido. If you relocate for work, you can deduct expenses associated with moving the family pooch.

Foster pets and shelters

Being a pet foster parent is a noble cause. But if you foster pets on behalf of non-profit organizations you can deduct these expenses. Likewise, if you volunteer at the local shelter, you can deduct the mileage accrued on your personal car.

Service animals

If you rely on a service animal to perform everyday functions, you can deduct expenses accrued by caring for your pet. However, this deduction is for service animals only. Your therapy peacock doesn’t get you tax breaks.


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Of course, if pet parents are writing off expenses, parents of human children can too. You might be surprised by some of these unusual tax breaks.

Clarinet lessons

Weird but true, clarinet lessons are orthodontically proven to improve the shape of your child’s mouth and correct a misaligned bite. So, make sure your child’s music teacher writes you a receipt.

Summer camp fees

Camp is expensive, but you can write it off if both parents are employed or special circumstances for single parents have been incurred.

Self-employed deductions

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Self-employed filers get the short end of the stick by paying more taxes than traditional W2 employees. But there’s a silver lining: These taxpayers accrue more business-related expenses than traditional workers and can take advantage of more unusual tax breaks.

Pet food

If you rely on animals for business operations, you can write off their food expenses. So, junkyard dogs that deter thieves and bodega cats that catch mice can save you money.

Cosmetic surgery or health and beauty products

Models, bodybuilders, and those who rely on their looks for work can write off anything from tanning oil and makeup to breast implants if it directly impacts their ability to make money.

Airline fees

If you travel for work, you can deduct baggage, upgrades, and even flight change fees.

Membership dues

Professional associations are essential for networking, but those membership fees are expensive. Self-employed taxpayers can take the full deduction on this line item.

Work uniforms

If you wear a uniform for work, and it’s essential to completing your task, you can deduct these expenses.


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Most people know they can write off a certain number of home-related expenses. But did you know you can deduct swimming pool expenses if you rely on it for your health? If you can prove that a physician recommended aquatic therapy to improve your health and that it contains specific features to facilitate accessibility, your pool could save you money.


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Healthier people actually save us all money by way of lower insurance premiums. However, you might be surprised by these individual tax breaks.

Smoking cessation

The rules around this one are quite specific. Traditional OTC methods like nicotine patches and gums aren’t covered. But if you’re enrolled in a cessation program and your overall medical expenses total 7.5 percent of your total adjusted gross income, you can claim this tax break.

Weight loss

Losing weight can improve your health and the severity of medical conditions. If weight loss is recommended by your doctor to treat an underlying condition, you can even deduct your local Weight Watchers fees!


Anyone who’s gone through pregnancy knows that you spend a lot of time at the doctor’s office and undergo a battery of tests throughout the entire process. It turns out that Uncle Sam feels your pain, and a variety of the routine diagnostic tests in every trimester are deductible expenses as long as it exceeds 10 percent of your total adjusted gross income.  

Truly unusual deductions

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Private planes

If you buy a private plane to support business operations, you can write off the upkeep as part of your overall business expenses.

Gambling losses

The next time you lose your shirt in Vegas, you can still win. However, the IRS is very specific about using this deduction. You can claim losses only up to the total amount of gambling income earned. In other words, if you lost $15,000 but won $5,000 you can only deduct $5,000.


If you’re feeling charitable and decide to donate leftover food, the floral arrangements, or even your wedding gown, you can claim a tax break. More importantly, if you pick a historic location, you can count your venue fee towards your deductions.

While this isn’t a comprehensive list of deductions, it’s a good overview of unusual tax breaks that you may not have known were available. Of course, Trivia Genius is not an expert in filing taxes. Before you take advantage of any of these deductions, make sure you talk to your accountant or tax preparer first.