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Judge: Tax Depreciation OK for Dancer’s Augmented Breasts

April 11, 1994

WASHINGTON (AP) _ An Indiana woman has won agreement from the U.S. Tax Court that her breasts are business assets and can be depreciated for tax purposes.

Cynthia S. Hess, known as ″Chesty Love″ in her professional life as an exotic dancer, and her husband, Reginald R. Hess, claimed a $2,088 deduction in 1988 for depreciation on the surgical implants that enlarged her bust size to a 56FF.

The IRS turned down the deduction, citing a long list of court decisions holding that expenditures to enhance a taxpayer’s health or appearance - while useful for business - are so inherently personal that they can’t be deducted as a business expense.

But Hess found an ally in Special Trial Judge Joan Seitz Pate, who ruled that the implants increased Hess’ income and that the breasts are so large and cumbersome - they are about 10 pounds each - that she couldn’t derive personal benefit from them.

″Petitioner’s expenditures were detrimental to her health and contorted her body into a grotesque appearance, all for the purpose of making money. Thus, even though the implants were surgically made a part of her body, we are convinced that they are not inherently personal in nature,″ Pate wrote in the March 30 decision.

″Petitioner, in pursuit of additional income, had inserted implants that augmented her breasts to such an extent that they made her appear ’freakish,‴ the judge wrote. ″They were so large that they ruined her personal appearance, her health, and imposed severe stress on her personal and family relationships.″

Dancing as ″Tonda Marie″ before the implants, Hess grossed from $416 to $750 per week. After ″multiple medical procedures″ to enlarge her chest, her fees almost doubled. In a 20-week period of 1991, ″petitioner realized gross income in excess of $70,000,″ the judge wrote.

As for evidence of a negative personal impact, the judge noted, ″In December of 1988, because of the added weight and imbalance created by the implants, petitioner slipped and fell on ice, rupturing one of her implants. Afterward, she contracted a severe bacterial infection and ... she could not work at all during 1989.″

″In addition to medical problems, petitioner and her husband were subjected to considerable humiliation because of the size of her breasts,″ Pate wrote in the March 30 decision. ″Petitioner was ridiculed by people on the street, her husband suffered off-color comments and insults, and she was ostracized by most of her family.″

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