Tuesday, April 18th is drawing nearer, and those of us who haven’t filed our taxes yet are scrambling to get our documents together, ahead of the looming deadline. Although figuring out which tax deductions you are eligible for can be a headache, it may be worth looking into, especially if you’re a pet owner. While you probably won’t be able to write off that $79 football jersey you bought for your Boston Terrier, chances are you may qualify for other pet owner tax breaks.

Pet Owner Tax Breaks

You may consider Fido or Fluffy a full-fledged family member, but the IRS doesn’t see it that way. Although you won’t be able to claim your dog, cat, parakeet, guinea pig, bearded dragon lizard, or any other pet as a dependent, there are a few ways to offset some of the expense that goes along with owning a pet.

If your pet meets any of the following guidelines, you may be eligible for a pet-related tax write-off:

  1. Guard dog  – Although your golden retriever may furiously bark at the postal worker or UPS driver, that’s not enough to consider him a tax write-off. However, you may be able to claim dog food, training classes, and vet bills as a business expense if you can prove that your dog guards your business location if you’ve kept full and accurate records of your pet’s “work hours”. Breed and size matter here, so Chihuahuas and Papillons need not apply.
  2. Foster pet – Fostering a homeless animal is a wonderful endeavor that keeps an animal out of the shelter system and increases his or her chances of being adopted into a forever home. It’s also possible to get a tax deduction by taking advantage of tax benefits for charitable contributions. The expenses related to caring for a foster pet (namely food and medical bills) may be deductible on Schedule A as charitable donations, so long as you keep all receipts and other required documentation.
  3. Pest control – Is your kitty an essential tool in keeping vermin away from your business property? If so, the expense associated with keeping him or her may be considered a viable tax break for you. Make sure you have adequate records and can prove that your sweet Siamese is necessary to the success of your business.
  4. Offsetting hobby income  – If you earn hobby income by showing your pet, you may be able to deduct pet-related expenses. The process to deduct is tricky (the total expenses must exceed 2% of your adjusted gross income), and requires pet owners to itemize. In some cases, it may not be a substantial savings, but it may be worth looking into for pet owners who regularly earn money showing their dogs or cats.
  5. Service animals – Guide dogs and service animals can be included in your tax-deductible medical expenses. As long as you have a diagnosed condition that benefits from the assistance of a trained service animal (as directed by your doctor) you can claim the cost of purchasing, training, veterinary, food, and grooming expenses. Just make sure you have any and all documentation required by the IRS.
  6. Moving expenses – Moving to a new city with a pet is never easy, but you may be able to alleviate some of the stress (at least for yourself) by deducting the expenses associated with moving your pet. If you meet the IRS criteria for work-related relocating, you may be able to deduct the cost of shipping your pet to your new home, as well as other moving-related expenses.

Although we are not tax experts here at Oakland Veterinary Referral Services, we welcome your pet health-related questions. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to the staff at any time!