TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Can NFL Players Deduct the Cost of Massages?

James HarrisonForbes:   NFL Linebacker James Harrison Spends More On Massage Than You Did On Your House. But Can He Deduct It?, by Anthony J. Nitti (WithumSmith & Brown, Aspen, CO):

NFL Linebacker and terrifying human being James Harrison, he of the striped helmet and checkered past, made news yesterday during his introductory press conference with the Cincinnati Bengals when he disclosed that he spends upwards of $500,000 annually on training, massage, and other body work.

“My body is what helps me to make money,” Harrison said. “Whatever there is that I need to do to try and make myself better or get myself healthy, I’m going to do it. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to say that I spend anywhere between $400,000-$600,000 on body work, as far as taking care of my body, year-in and year-out.” ...

Just because Harrison’s massage bills are steep, however, doesn’t mean they’re not necessary, particularly for someone who makes his living putting his body through the equivalent of a car crash approximately 60 times per game, 16 games per year. This all leads to a logical question: can Harrison deduct his $500,000 of annual body work costs on his tax return?   ... [D]o training, massage, and body work costs represent ordinary and necessary business expenses to someone in the business of playing NFL football? ...

[T]he biggest hurdle facing Harrison in claiming deductions for his condition work, however, is one of substantiation. In the three hockey cases cited above – Stemkowski, Hanna, and Bailey – the Tax Court, while agreeing that off-season condition costs would be deductible, ultimately denied the deductions because the taxpayers failed to keep accurate records. So here’s to hoping Harrison kept his receipts.

(Hat Tip: Chaz Perin.)

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Are breast enhancements for models and actresses deductible? If your career depends upon the shape of your body, then it makes sense to allow a reasonable deduction.

Posted by: Woody | May 30, 2013 11:32:44 AM