The tax-deductible dog, and other surprises

Consumer Reports

While you're watching the finale of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show this evening, consider this: All those breeders and handlers and other folks who make dogs their living get to deduct their dog-related costs as business expenses. 

And notably, many regular folks can deduct dog-related expenses, too, if those dogs are service animals. The IRS says the costs to buy, train, and maintain a service animal for someone who is visually impaired or hearing disabled, or has another physical disability can be considered deductible medical expenses. "In general, this includes any costs, such as food, grooming, and veterinary care, incurred in maintaining the health and vitality of the service animal so that it may perform its duties." says IRS Publication 502, Medical and Dental Expenses.

Welcome to the world of unusual medical tax deductions. According to Barbara Weltman, an attorney and contributing editor to J.K. Lasser's "Your Income Tax" book series, taxpayers often are not aware of all they can claim in medical expenses. Below are a few others.

• Wigs prescribed by a psychiatrist to deal with anxiety about hair loss

• Special bed or mattress to help your back or sleeping disorder if prescribed by a doctor

• Improvements to make your home accessible to someone with a disability

• New siding on a home where a resident is suffering due to mold on the old siding

• Remedial reading help for a dyslexic child

• Herbal supplements prescribed by a doctor for migraine headaches

• Hearing-aid batteries

• Laser eye surgery

• In-vitro fertilization treatments for someone who is infertile

• If your switch to a gluten-free diet is costing you more, the price difference between the old and new diets is also tax-deductible. Good thing, because as our recent report on gluten-free products shows, that's often the case.

Consumer Reports' Tax Guide offers wisdom on preparing, paying and saving money on your taxes.

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Travel to visit a child in rehabilitation when the visit is recommended as a necessary part of the rehabilitation may be deductible, Weltman confirms. 

Keep in mind that you can only write off those qualified medical expenses that exceed 10 percent of your household adjusted gross income. For households where one filer is 65 or older, the cutoff is 7.5 percent, at least through tax-year 2016. 

And, in case you were wondering, a federal tax deduction for medical marijuana remains a pipe dream.

—Tobie Stanger (@TobieStanger on Twitter)



More from Consumer Reports:
It’s time to buy a new phone, here’s why
Dos and don’ts of itemized tax deductions
Top 5 ways to boost the value of your home

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