Saturday, March 12, 2011


Sitcom star Charlie Sheen's public meltdown has grabbed more headlines than any story since pop star Michael Jackson's death. Public consensus is that Sheen is a man in desperate need of help. So naturally, we were wondering, is there any help waiting for him from the IRS?

We're not here to "pile on" like so many commentators. (That's what Saturday Night Live is for!) But if you're following the story like so many of us, consider how the tax code helps Charlie in these areas:

• Drug Rehab. Charlie's rehab bills are a deductible medical expense. And unlike some deductions that are specifically limited (like mortgage interest on your primary residence and just one additional home), there's no limit to how many times you can write off rehab.

The downside here is that medical expenses are deductible only to the extent they exceed 7.5% of "adjusted gross income." Sheen reportedly makes $1.8 million for each of 22 episodes, which suggests he can only deduct medical expenses topping $3 million/year. Even for Charlie, that might be a stretch! However, he might establish a Medical Expense Reimbursement Plan through a business entity to avoid that 7.5% floor. If you own your own business, even a startup or sideline, call us to see if you can benefit from that same strategy.

• "Goddesses." Sheen lives with two young blondes whom he calls "goddesses," and whom he says help take care of his twin toddler sons. If he actually pays those women for child care, payments up to $6,000 per child may qualify for the Dependent Care Credit. The rules say you can't pay a member of your own family to care for younger children — but they don't say anything about paying goddesses!

• Job-Hunting Expenses. "Two and a Half Men" producers have officially canned Sheen, arguing he's violated a morals clause in his contract. Job hunting expenses to help Sheen find new and artistically challenging roles are deductible as a miscellaneous itemized deductions, subject to a 2% floor on adjusted gross income.

• Legal Fees. Odds are good that anyone with a mouth like Charlie needs a lawyer who bills by the hour. Sheen can deduct legal fees relating to the $300 million lawsuit he just announced against CBS, along with any additional fees related to tax-deductible alimony paid to his three ex-wives.

Sheen has tiger blood and Adonis DNA to help him through his current troubles. But even Hollywood train wrecks can't hide from taxes without a plan. So call us if you're looking for savings without the headlines!