It’s true, my love of recreational tax code reading comes from my mom’s side of the family. My mom is actually a volunteer tax preparer. I keep telling her no one’s gonna buy the cow if they can get the milk for free, but does she listen? Noooo.

But I digress…

Tonight I was catching up on some reading with IRS Publication 526 Cat. No. 15050A: Charitable Contributions for use in preparing 2007 tax returns. I used to know the rules pretty well when I was gainfully employed, but haven’t really kept up over the last few years. I was skimming through the rules on what constitutes a charitable organization, rules on non-cash donations, and the like to see what’s new. And then I got to page 6: Expenses of Whaling Captains:

You may be able to deduct as a charitable contribution the reasonable and necessary whaling expenses paid during the year in carrying out sanctioned whaling activities.

You can find out more about this exciting new provision by reading Internal Revenue Bulletin: 2006-47; Rev. Proc. 2006-50.

Don’t get too excited and try to write off just any old whaling expenses. You must be recognized by the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission before you can even think about writing off expenses related to acquiring whaling accoutrements.

Reading further, I remembered that they finally closed the loopholes in the rules governing the donation of Taxidermy Property in 2006 as well:

If you donate taxidermy property to a qualified organization, your deduction is limited to your basis in the property or its fair market value, whichever is less. This applies if you prepared, stuffed, or mounted the property or paid or incurred the cost of preparing, stuffing, or mounting the property.

Your basis for this purpose includes only the cost of preparing, stuffing, and mounting the property. Your basis does not include transportation or travel costs. It also does not include direct or indirect costs for hunting or killing an animal, such as equipment costs and the costs of preparing an animal carcass for taxidermy.

Taxidermy property means any work of art that:

-Is the reproduction or preservation of an animal, in whole or in part,

-Is prepared, stuffed, or mounted to recreate one or more characteristics of the animal, and

-Contains a part of the body of the dead animal.

The previous rules had to be fixed because they’d created a loophole to the tune of $49 million a year in tax deductions for wealthy people who liked to shoot things, especially endangered species.