If you've taken up ballroom dancing or begun writing checks for your son's ballet classes, taking the costs as a tax cut might sound pretty good. Unfortunately, the odds are against you. In most cases, dance classes for yourself or your family don't generate any sort of write-off. It comes down to the reason you're paying for class more than how much you're paying.
If you or your kid dances for a living, classes to maintain or improve your skills are deductible. Point shoes, leotards and classes are also deductible as business expenses, as is the cost of driving to class. Unfortunately, if you're not a pro yet, classes to prepare for a dance career don't count as a business expense. If dancing costs you more than the money you make, the IRS may brand you a hobbyist. In that case, you can only deduct up to the limit of hobby income.
Your doctor may recommend, say, belly dancing or jazz dancing as a way to lose weight or relieve stress. Unfortunately, the IRS says flat-out that dancing to improve general health, even on a doctor's recommendation, is not deductible. If dancing were, say, part of a weight-loss program and the doctor told you to lose weight to treat a specific problem -- hypertension or a heart condition, for instance -- you might potentially have a shot at a write-off.
If you -- and your spouse, if married -- need to put your under-12 daughter in day care so that you can work or look for work, the IRS is flexible about what constitutes day care. For instance, an after-school tap class that keeps her busy until you're through with work could be deductible. The credit can be up to 35 percent of the class costs, to a maximum of $3,000 for one child or $6,000 for more than one.
If your kid is in college studying dance -- or you, or your spouse -- you can take any tax deductions for college he qualifies for. You can write off up to $4,000 in tuition as a tax deduction, as of 2013. The American Opportunity and Lifetime Learning tax credits allow you to deduct tuition from taxes rather than taxable income. Each deduction has its own qualification rules and requirements.
- Internal Revenue Service: Business Deduction for Work-Related Education
- IRS: Business or Hobby? Answer Has Implications for Deductions
- IRS: Medical and Dental Expenses
- IRS: Ten Things to Know About the Child and Dependent Care Credit
- Forbes: Back to School: Deductions for Soccer, Cheerleading and Extracurricular Activities?
- IRS: Tax Benefits for Education
A graduate of Oberlin College, Fraser Sherman began writing in 1981. Since then he's researched and written newspaper and magazine stories on city government, court cases, business, real estate and finance, the uses of new technologies and film history. Sherman has worked for more than a decade as a newspaper reporter, and his magazine articles have been published in "Newsweek," "Air & Space," "Backpacker" and "Boys' Life." Sherman is also the author of three film reference books, with a fourth currently under way.