But a lot of work goes into preparing a house to be burned down, including a detailed inspection by environmental authorities, said Terry Grady, a lawyer representing Mr. Hendrix, who wants the IRS to refund him $100,590 in “erroneously collected” taxes after Mr. Hendrix built a new house on the property.
“They have to, in fact, pay their mortgage off. They have to make sure there’s no asbestos in the house,” Mr. Grady said. “And you know, conversely, the benefits to the fire department are just immense.”
Although the demolition is free, the homeowner is responsible for clearing away the debris.
ESPN commentator Kirk Herbstreit, who also lives in Upper Arlington, let firefighters burn his home in 2004. The former Ohio State football star’s claim of a $330,000 tax deduction was rejected a year later. Mr. Herbstreit declined to comment.
A case similar to the Hendrix dispute has also unfolded in Chenequa, Wis., where Theodore Rolfs filed for a $76,000 tax deduction on his lakefront home that was burned in 1998. The trial concluded in 2006; Mr. Rolfs is still waiting for a verdict.
Mr. Rolfs, who had been told it was common practice to receive the deduction, was taken aback when the IRS rejected his request.
“Their arguments didn’t make any sense,” he said.
At Mr. Rolfs’ house, firefighters wheeled a truck down to the shore and practiced pumping lake water onto the flames, a crucial training exercise in Chenequa, which has no fire hydrants, said Mr. Rolfs’ attorney, Michael Goller.
Environmental laws in some states ban live burns. In other states, most fire departments adhere to safety guidelines that say windows should be boarded up, floors inspected for sturdiness and shingles and carpets stripped away.
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