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Tax breaks Chicagoans should be allowed to claim on their returns

Written by
Chris Bourg

As a professional in the accounting industry, I feel that it is my duty to remind you that tax season is officially in full swing. (Side note: I accept payments in beer and it's better than doing it yourself.) Although there are ample opportunities to maximize your tax refunds through deductions and tax credits, the IRS should allow Chicagoans to claim special tax breaks on our 2014 returns for certain hardships we've endured over the past year.

Investment in sports teams: We invest our money, time and emotions into watching and supporting our teams, only to be rewarded with bad baseball, worse football and heart-breaking playoff losses from both tenants of the United Center. Certainly the heartbreak we've suffered from our sports investments is more worthy of a tax break than some Wall Street broker's losses on capital assets, is it not?

The polar vortex: Winter in 2014 was even worse than usual, with temperatures plummeting to –30 degrees after accounting for wind chill. As a result, we had to use PTO to miss work, pay higher heating bills to keep our residences from turning into ice caves and, worst of all, suffer the embarrassment of slipping on sidewalks caked in ice that never seemed to melt. Since Old Man Winter didn't give us a break, the IRS should do us the courtesy of extending us one.

The new DePaul arena: The City and McPier officially green-lit the construction of a new basketball arena for the DePaul Blue Demons near McCormick Place, part of which will be funded by taxpayer dollars. Since we're so generously giving the city money to build this stadium, we should be allowed to claim a charitable contribution for it on our tax returns. Put another way: We're helping out our broke city fund the construction of a stadium for a private university's team that nobody ever goes to see play, in an effort to hopefully make them relevant again. If that's not charity, I don't know what is.

Casino expenses: Chicagoans love gambling, but for some reason the city and state won't allow a casino to be built here. Because of that, we have to drive out to either the suburbs (ew) or Indiana (even worse) just to get our casino fix. Similar to deducting for moving expenses, we should be allowed to deduct for expenses associated with driving to suburban casinos. And if the IRS will let us claim gambling losses as a tax break, even better!

Sitting in traffic: The Dan Ryan, the Stevenson, the matter what you take, driving anywhere in the city is a nightmare. Hell, driving five miles from one neighborhood to another is usually an hour-long commitment. The CTA is lousy with delays and logjams. There's no reason why we shouldn't be allowed to claim the gradual decaying of our lives during our commute as an additional travel deduction.

Hopefully you all get a hefty refund on your tax returns. And if you're successfully able to lobby the IRS into allowing these tax breaks on your return, you might even come into a small fortune (which the city will inevitably find a way to take from you).

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