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What happens in Vegas can't be deducted for taxes

A few weeks ago, I blogged on some of the odd things Americans have tried to claim to reduce their taxable income (pornography, buffalo meat and underwear, to name a few) .

Today, a look at quirky and unexpected items that some of our own have tried to get past the Canada Revenue Agency -- often successfully -- based on actual cases that ended up in Tax Court, according to H&R Block. (This is especially for those of you out there who shook your heads while reading the earlier post and said, "Only in America!")

1. Smuggled marijuana. This should not be treated as a "loss of inventory" deductible against the taxpayer's income from illegal drug trafficking, the court ruled.

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2. Trips to Vegas. They cannot be claimed as a medical expense even when your dermatologist recommends trips to warmer climates where the natural sunlight will help treat a psoriasis condition.

3. Cat and dog food. A farmer was allowed to claim cat and dog food because they were outdoor pets that were acquired to keep wildlife away from the farm's blueberries.

4. A recent widow. Where a widow remarries immediately after her husband dies, both the new husband and the estate of the deceased husband can claim a spousal amount for her.

5. Unwanted golf. A corporate executive was required to join a golf club by his company but he "hated golf, could not golf and did not golf." The Tax Court ruled the $2,047 annual membership was for the benefit of the employer and not the employee, so it was not a taxable benefit.

6. Lottery winnings. Two brothers who lived off the proceeds of sports lotteries were successful in having their winnings declared non-taxable. The Canada Revenue Agency tried to contend that the gambling was organized, but the Tax Court ruled that the brothers' system relied only on massive and reckless long shots and they simply beat the odds. Even though they hired assistants and got discounts for the high volume bets, the brothers focused on watching sports on TV, playing ping pong and eating pizza rather than developing a sophisticated betting business.

7. Diamonds and fur coats. The CRA attempted to claim that $2-million in gifts given to an exotic dancer should be considered part of her business income. But the Tax Court disagreed, and she got to keep the gifts, which included a Corvette, money to buy a BMW, eight fur coats and jewels on the grounds that these were personal and non-taxable gifts.

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About the Author
Deputy head of Audience

Sonali Verma is deputy head of audience at the Globe and Mail. She is a business journalist with more than 20 years of experience, mainly in digital media.She was previously the Globe and Mail’s senior editor in charge of audience engagement, overseeing its homepages as well as social media operations. More

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