(CBSMoneyWatch)
It’s hard to think there’s anything funny about taxes when you’re under a mountain of paperwork, but CBS News contributor and analyst Mellody Hobson has a little comic relief for taxpayers. In all her research about taxes, she came across some fairly ridiculous write offs the IRS has allowed — and some crazy things people have tried and failed to slip by the IRS.

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First, you’d be amazed about what people try to write off concerning their pets, and it’s no wonder why — they’re expensive. According to the ASPCA, dogs and cats both cost over $1,000 a year. There was the case of the woman who claimed an unusually high amount of medical expenses for a dependent, but she didn’t have a spouse or any children. Turns out the “dependent” was her dog. Her accountant set her straight that if it’s covered in fur, you can’t claim it as a dependent. In general, pet expenses are not deductable, but there are a couple surprising exceptions.

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For instance, you can deduct expenses related to a foster animal if the goods or services are solely for the foster pet and if the organization is a registered non-profit. That means it has 501(c)(3) tax status. Also, expenses exceeding $250 may require a letter from the organization. In a landmark tax court case, a California woman was able to deduct 90 percent of the $12,000 in deductions she claimed for the 70 cats she fostered. Seventy cats. But this wasn’t your average crazy cat lady — she was working with a legitimate charity.

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