"Costumes--maybe it's the maid's outfit, or cheerleading outfit--you could justify those items as expensive and deductible," says Meighan. "You could also easily argue that a gym membership could enhance their value and enhance their business, and could therefore be written off."
They can write off unsexy things, too
Meighan explained that porn stars could write off STD and drug testing. "They could probably argue that birth control could be a business expense. Even condoms--anything along those lines--deductible," he says.
What Actual Porn Stars Said:
"My tattoos, my clothing are all basically an investment into my persona that my company makes money off of, and there are so many different costs that go into making movies that we wrote off. Once we shot a movie where a character played the owner of a frozen pizza distribution company (don't ask--I think of really odd plots). I looked into prop houses and saw it was cheaper to just go to Smart and Final and buy a whole bunch of frozen pizza and then put stickers on the logos. So, I wrote off 117 boxes of frozen pizza.... as 'set design."—Joanna Angel, pictured above, of Burning Angel (NSFW)
Another star told us his studio had covered everything except tanning, and another mentioned that some actors write off waxing.
A studio executive who wished to remain anonymous had this piece of counter-advice: "Maybe you're right [with whatever you're writing off], but do you want to go to the IRS every year and prove your writeoffs? Nope. It's not worth the problem."
The Takeaway: "Ordinary" and "necessary" are totally relative.
The Profession: Journalist
What the Accountant Says:
"A lot of expenses required to conduct surveillance--with high-tech or paparazzi photographers--those would be expensive, and you could write them off," said Meighan, referencing News Corp's hacking scandal. "You could also write off undercover operations/investigative expenses, assistants for research—as long as it's in pursuit of a story you want to write."
Stuff Journalists Use But Probably Can't Afford
"Camera, computer, laptop, cellphones--things like these that can be used for business and are used for business can be written off," Meighan said. "Always think of the environment that you're working in. Push the envelope--with an iPad, in most cases it's fair and legitimate."
"Let's say you're doing an assignment in the arctic weather, and the clothing you purchased is going to be used solely for that purpose--you can deduct that," Meighan said. "News anchors would probably deduct their suits--but that's borderline. The IRS would probably try and argue that you could use the clothing in other events."
What Actual Journalists Said:
"I wrote off my Marantz audio kit, my Canon PowerShot, and a few other things. Did my taxes this past weekend and it was quite painless. Hopefully I didn't screw up!" said Nathan Frandino, a journalist at The Santiago Times.