Before this example gets your hopes up, understand that if you're counting on deducting that nose job or face lift, you're likely to be disappointed.
The IRS generally does not consider most cosmetic surgeries deductible -- except in certain specific scenarios. Which brings us to exotic dancer Cynthia Hess.
In 1994, Hess, who went by the stage name "Chesty Love," sued the IRS in order to take a $2,088 tax deduction for a breast augmentation procedure that left her with a size 56FF chest. Hess claimed the procedure was a work-related expense undertaken purely to advance her career.
Noting that Hess' new breasts weighed 10 pounds each and were so cumbersome that she could not derive personal benefit from them, U.S. Tax Court judge Joan Seitz Pate agreed, allowing her to deduct the expense as a "stage prop."
No. 2: Body oil
Exotic dancers aren't the only professionals who can claim odd items as work-related tax deductions. Consider the world of professional bodybuilding, for instance.
In 2004, Wisconsin bodybuilder Corey L. Wheir filed suit against the IRS after the agency denied his deductions for bison meat, supplements and oil and tanning products.
Wheir pointed to the high-protein meat and other items, including ProTan Muscle Juice Professional Posing Oil, which he applied to his body prior to going on stage, as business expenses.
While the court found the meat and supplements to be a personal expense because they could be consumed by anyone, they did grant the Dairyland bodybuilder his other write-offs. In its written decision, the court declared the oils and tanning products deductible because they were marketed only through bodybuilding magazines and were not generally for sale through "normal marketing outlets."
No. 1: Free beer
Businesses come up with all kinds of novel ways to attract customers, but perhaps no promotion was as inspired as that of the gas station owner who gave his customers free beer.
In the 1982 case of Sullivan v. Commissioner, the U.S. Tax Court allowed a service station operator to deduct the cost of beer he offered to his customers free of charge while their vehicles were being filled with gasoline or serviced.
The court stated that a small business owner "can offer free beer to beer lovers" to improve business. Such an offering was a legitimate business expense and, thus, tax deductible, according to the court.
Of course, the court didn't weigh in on the wisdom of letting your customers chug beer before driving away from the pumps.