Americans love their pets, and it shows. The American Veterinary Association says 85% of dog parents and 76% of cat “owners” consider their pets part of the family. They sleep in our beds, keep us company during cold winter nights, and offer a helping paw or wet nose anytime they think we need a reminder we’re loved.
Yet, while our four-legged friends make excellent companions, the costs do add up. The ASPCA says the average cost of a dog starts at $1391/year in food, vet bills, and other expenses. Plus, they’re dependent on us for their exercise, grooming, and everything else. We can write off some expenses for dependents. Does that include our pets?
That would be a lovely idea, but unfortunately, the IRS disagrees with us. You are not allowed to itemize all of your pet expenses and put the refund toward a pet-friendly vacation. However, if you dig into the tax code, it turns out there are times when you may be able to write off pet-related expenses. Of course, you’ll want to consult a tax professional for your specific circumstances.
What Pet Expenses Are Tax-Deductible?
For most of us, routine pet costs aren’t tax-deductible. Food, training, vet bills, it’s all on us. Yet, there are special instances when pet expenses are tax-deductible.
For example, did you know service dogs can be tax-deductible? You might even be able to deduct your pet-related moving expenses if you made a job-related move in 2021 or if you own a pet-related business. Looks like pet expenses can be a line item on your taxes after all.
Do You Have a Service Dog?
You’ve probably seen service dogs in shops and airports. They wear a special vest that identifies them as a service dog or a service dog in training.
The American Disabilities Act defines service dogs as dogs who help those with disabilities. Specially trained to guide the blind, alert the deaf, pull a wheelchair, and otherwise perform services for those with physical difficulties, they’re not considered pets.
If you meet the criteria, these dogs can provide tax deductions for you. In some cases, H&R Block says you may even be able to write off the buying and training of these dogs.
However, service dogs and therapy dogs are not the same. Your emotional support Golden Retriever provides you with many benefits. Yet, you’ll need a diagnosed mental or physical condition to qualify for a tax deduction for your therapy dog.
Did You Move Last Year?
If you’re one of the millions who moved for new opportunities, your pet’s moving expenses may qualify. The IRS classifies pets as possessions, which means that if you moved for work, you might be able to deduct Fido’s portion of the moving expenses.
According to Credit Karma, the criteria include moving in the first twelve months of a new job and a commute that’s more than 50 miles from your original home. Additionally, you’ll need to work full-time for at least 39 weeks to be eligible for this deduction.
Working Pets Are Tax-Deductible
If you run a business like a cat café where the cats are the point of the business, their care could be a legitimate tax write-off. Likewise, if you have a pet who’s a social media star, you may be able to write off their care. However, taking your pet to the office doesn’t count.
The Health Benefits of Unconditional Love
You can’t put a price tag on unconditional love. When you open the door to a wagging tail and purring kitty rubbing against your legs, it warms the heart.
Besides the adoration, multiple studies show that pets are good for you. The National Institute of Health partnered with MARS Corporation for Pet Nutrition to do ongoing research into the health benefits of pets, with early results showing that pets lower stress levels. This probably isn’t surprising news to you since petting your dog or cat can help you feel calmer.
Some studies also report that dog parents are more physical and social than those without dogs. Since dogs require daily walks, most dog parents get a bit of exercise and likely talk to other people while on the walk. Both the movement and positive interactions with others are good for mental health.
Conclusion: Unconditional Love Is Priceless!
When your four-legged companion snuggles up with you on the couch, you’re probably not thinking about taxes or how much your loved one costs.
Instead, you’re enjoying the feeling of running your hands through their fur and the companionship. That’s a good thing! Relaxation is good for us.
Our pets offer unconditional love. While they’re dependent on us, most aren’t going to be a tax deduction. So, while it’d be nice to write off that premium pet food, all the toys, and the expensive grooming sessions, it’s likely not going to happen. However, you can consult with a tax professional about your specific situation.
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