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Mama Mia! Swedish tax break prompted ABBA's wild outfits

What do you remember more about ABBA? The 1970s Swedish pop quartet's outrageous outfits or the catchy songs?

If you answered the wild clothing, the band and its tax adviser thank you.

Those platform boots, brightly colored jumpers, ruffled bell bottoms and the occasional cape helped Bjorn Ulvaeus, Agnetha Faltskog, Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Benny Andersson reduce their taxes.

The clothing tax break was revealed in ABBA: The Official Photo Book, published to mark the 40th anniversary of the group's Eurovision song contest win singing Waterloo.

Swedish laws allowed performers to deduct the cost of outfits as long as the clothes were intended for performance only and couldn't be worn as normal street clothes, according to the book. ABBA's glam rock look fit that bill perfectly.

"In my honest opinion we looked like nuts in those years," said Ulvaeus. "Nobody can have been as badly dressed on stage as we were."

Similar law for U.S. clothing: Don't be too quick to scoff at either ABBA's outfits or Swedish tax law. There's a similar tax provision in the U.S. Internal Revenue Code.

Clothing for work, such as uniforms required by an employer and which are not suitable for everyday use, can be counted as an itemized expense. All your allowable attire and other miscellaneous expenditures can be itemized on Schedule A under the "Job Expenses and Certain Miscellaneous Deductions" section.

But, as today's Daily Tax Tip notes, your miscellaneous deductions only count when they are more than 2 percent of your adjusted gross income. So if your AGI is $30,000, you'll need more than $600 in miscellaneous deductions before they do you any tax good.

And the "more than" phrase is crucial. If you have $650 in miscellaneous expenses, you can only write off $50 as an itemized expense.

Depending on your income, this means you will need to a whole lot of shopping for work-only outfits.

If you're in the entertainment industry, maybe you can find some gently worn but still tax-saving ABBA-inspired outfits at thrift shops.

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