Our pets are our fur children and they depend on us to make sure they are safe, happy, and healthy…but for some reason, we cannot claim them as “dependents” when filing our taxes. However, there are several ways in which you may be able to claim animal-related costs as tax-deductible expenses and some of them may surprise you.
As a disclaimer, I am not an accountant. My uncle is and he helps me do my taxes because it confuses me (thanks Uncle Billy). But I would like to share with you the information I’ve learned through a bit of research—information I wish I had known sooner!
In general, you cannot claim any of the costs for general care of your pet as tax-deductible expenses, but service animals are the exception. An animal trained and/or certified as a treatment for a diagnosed illness or condition (such as a guide dog for visually impaired or hearing disabled individuals) is considered a medical expense. Not only can you claim any veterinary expenses, you can also claim the cost of training, feeding, and even grooming your animal. But it is advisable you have the appropriate medical records to back your claim; you can’t just claim your kitty as a therapy animal because you like when they sleep on your lap.
It is possible (under the right circumstances) to cite your pet as a tax-deductible business expense—including the cost of food, training, and veterinary care—if you can adequately prove your pet protects your business and/or inventory. You would be asked to provide full and accurate records of your animal’s hours on the job. The animal and breed are important when the IRS considers the validity of your claim: a German shepherd is going to be taken much more seriously than a Chihuahua (which I don’t necessarily agree with; I’ve known some intimidating Chihuahuas).
Moving to a new home with your pet? As you can with the cost of moving personal effects or your car, you can deduct the cost of moving your household pet. If you are making any kind of special arrangements to make sure your pet gets to your new home as comfortably as possible, keep track of the costs and claim it.
While you cannot claim the cost of an adoption fee you may pay a non-profit shelter (this is considered an exchange of goods/services and therefore not a donation), any additional donations you give to the organization would be tax-deductible. You can also deduct any expenses you may incur as a volunteer for such organizations, including unreimbursed costs for caring for foster pets. Just be sure to keep an itemized record of your expenses as well as your direct charitable donations.
Working with Animals
If you work directly with animals, chances are you are eligible to claim animal-related tax-deductible business expenses. Trainers or dog walkers may be able to deduct mileage or transportation costs for visiting clients as well as claiming the cost of poop bags or cleaning supplies (Take note, fellow Peaks Pet Nannies!). Just be sure to keep your receipts and be able to prove the expenses were related to work and not your personal pet.
By, Kevin Kypers