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U.S. Tax Court: Porn Not a Tax Write-Off

U.S. Tax Court: Porn Not a Tax Write-Off
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Sep 17, 2009 9:30 AM PDT    Text size: 
BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Adult entertainment can't be claimed as a tax write-off, the government said.

The United States Tax Court, which handles disputes about income tax codes, ruled against a New York tax lawyer's claim that $100,000 worth of pornography and prostitutes could be written off as medical expenses.

The petitioner in the case was 78-year-old William G. Halby of Brooklyn, N.Y., a retired tax attorney. All told, Halby spent more than $5,000 on adult content in 2005 while rolling up more than more than $65,000 with prostitutes. He amassed similar numbers in 2004, adding up to the $100,000 estimate.

Halby's argument looked to more liberal laws in Denmark and Germany that allow such unique treatment for sexual ailments. He also directly contested New York's laws against prostitution.

"I cited a lot of medical literature in my brief," he said. "This is medical treatment and does not have to be prescribed by a doctor. It's not the licensing or qualification of the person who renders the service, but that the service is medical."

The court disagreed, even though Halby kept detailed records of his purchases, according to Judge Joseph Robert Goeke.

“During 2004 and 2005 petitioner frequented prostitutes in New York," Goeke wrote. "Petitioner did not visit these prostitutes as part of a course of therapy prescribed by his doctor, nor did petitioner ask his doctor to prescribe any sort of sex therapy. Petitioner kept track of these visits in a journal. The journal included the date, the name of the ‘service provider,’ and the amount. Petitioner did not discuss these visits with his doctors afterwards to determine their impact on his health. During 2004 and 2005, petitioner purchased pornography and books and magazines on sex therapy. Petitioner also recorded the dates and amounts of the purchases in his journal.”

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