IRS not casual enough about casualty claims

Brian J. O'Connor
Detroit News Finance Editor

You may think of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service — the administrators of America's annual financial colonoscopy — as a heartless gang of Uncle Sam's knee-cappers and bagmen, but that is where you are wrong. The IRS feels for us taxpayers whenever tragedy befalls us, in the form of casualty, disaster and theft losses, as long as we remember to retain our receipts.

To be deductible, damage to your home, possessions or vehicles must be caused by a sudden, catastrophic event, such as a flood, hurricane, tornado, fire, earthquake or volcanic eruption. And while this is generous as far as it goes, I think we all can agree that this standard is far too restrictive.

The fact is that every tax-paying American endures an untold variety of unexpected daily disasters for which we clearly deserve some federal compensation. Consider not only the continued existence of the Chicago Cubs but also the current field of declared presidential candidates, and you tell me the words "federal disaster area" don't immediately spring to mind.

Tax deductions for the real world

That is why I am taking this opportunity to introduce my suggested list of new deductible IRS casualty claims. It includes:

Pointy-Haired Boss Allowance: Deduct $500 for every time a suggestion to a supervisor at work was met with the response, "Just be glad you have a job."

Teenager Cohabitation Tax Credit: If you lived with a teenager during 2014, deduct $2,500 or half of the value of all alcohol taxes paid by the household for the calendar year, whichever is more.

Additional credits:

■If you shared a bathroom with a teenager in 2014: Deduct an additional $500.

■If you vacationed with a teenager in 2014: Deduct an additional $1,200.

■If you taught a teenager to drive in 2014: Deduct three years from your life.

Pickup Patsy Allowance: If you owned a pickup in 2014, deduct $300 for each friend you helped move last year. Deduct an additional $200 if a piano was involved. Deduct an additional $500 if the friend's girlfriend "helped."

"Birdman" Effete Pomposity Credit: Reimburses any taxpayer the full value of movie tickets, parking and 119 minutes of your hourly wage rate if you saw this movie in 2014. Does not cover concessions, including the fact that, yes, it is nice to see Michael Keaton back on the big screen.

Alanis Morissette Tax Credit: Deduct $150 for each incidence in 2014 of:

■Won the lottery and died the next day*

■Received a free ride when you've already paid

■Experienced rain on your wedding day

■Found at least one black fly in your Chardonnay (or other white varietal)

■Received a death row pardon two minutes too late*

*Survivors of these taxpayers must file IRS Form 1310, "Statement of a Person Claiming Refund Due a Deceased Taxpayer."

Ain't Gonna Happen "Superfood" of the Moment Deduction: If you tried kale in 2014, deduct $100 and several taste buds. (Replaces previous tax year deductions for Chia seeds and quinoa.)

Some People Tax Credit: Deduct $200 if you think Kanye West just needs to get over himself.

Bipartisan Tax Reform and Simplification Act: Deduct $500 for every time you've been promised that the overly complicated, time-sucking, ridiculously expensive and politically rigged tax code was going to be reformed by Congress. Also file IRS Form 86, "Taxpayer Request for Flying Unicorn That Brings Rainbows and Showers of $1,000 Bills," because you'll get both of those things at about the same time.

Brian O'Connor is author of the award-winning book, "The $1,000 Challenge: How One Family Slashed Its Budget Without Moving Under a Bridge or Living on Government Cheese."

(313) 222-2145

Twitter: @BrianOCTweet