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'Sex therapy' is not a medical deduction

Do we really have to keep saying this? Apparently so.

A New York state tax appeals board has denied a retired Brooklyn lawyer's attempts to claim hundreds of thousands of dollars he spent on prostitutes, massages, pornography and other sex-related activities as deductions for "medical expenses." reports that William G. Halby's disallowed deductions included $40,588 on his 2002 return for "therapeutic sex," $70,776 for "massage therapy to relieve osteoarthritis and enhance erectile function through frequent orgasms" and $2,173 for "pornography to enhance sexual performance in lieu of taking Viagra."

"Patronizing a prostitute is illegal in New York and, thus, a taxpayer cannot claim a deduction for any illegal operation or treatment," ruled the Troy, N.Y.-based three-member Tax Appeals Tribunal.

Dr_Love Even if paying for sexual favors was legal, the Tribunal noted that virtually all of the services Halby tried to deduct were not prescribed by a doctor and "were not for the treatment of a medical condition, but rather, were instead personal items."

In the wake of the decision, New York tax officials say Halby now owes the Empire State, as well as New York City, $23,083 in unpaid income taxes, interest and penalties.

Thanks to TaxProf Blog for the tip on the New York tax panel's ruling.

And thanks to Tax Update Blog for alerting us to this case back in 2009 when the U.S. Tax Court came to the same conclusion, denying Halby's sex therapy claims as medical deductions on his federal tax return.

For legitimate medical expenses, check out this story on maximizing your medical deductions, as well as my previous blog tips on bunching your medical deductions and getting the most out of your medical flexible spending account (FSA).

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