Pets contribute to our lives in so many ways, but have you ever thought about how they contribute financially? You may be thinking, “Yes, I spend on their kibble and treats and plush toys” but that’s not quite what we’re referring to. There might be a way you can claim your dog or cat on your tax return. Pets are not considered dependents since they don’t have a social security number, but there are a variety of other ways that animals can show up in a tax filing. Talk to your accountant about these possibilities to find out if you qualify:
Fostering & Volunteering
If you’re helping out an animal shelter or rescue by offering to foster a pet, some of those expenses can be considered a charitable deduction on your taxes. This includes anything you pay for out of pocket from their food to medical expenses to other care supplies, and possibly even the miles you drive to their vet appointments.
As a volunteer, you can also list your travel expenses for the volunteer work. However, this has to be travel specifically related to the nonprofit’s mission, not the commute there (remember to keep a mileage log). Of course, financial donations to qualified nonprofits, like The Dr. Jane Foundation, can qualify too.
Is your pet a service animal? If you have physical disabilities, vision or hearing impairments, or a mental health condition such as PTSD, talk to your accountant about the possibility of writing off some expenses. This could be veterinary care including surgery, food necessities, pet supplies, training, grooming, boarding, and even the cost to acquire the pet itself. However, your companion must have formal training to be a service animal and a letter from your doctor in order to qualify.
Moving & Changing Jobs
If you’ve recently relocated for a job and qualify for a moving expense deduction, your dog or cat could be included in this. The IRS considers your pet a household possession, so if you’re able to deduct expenses like transportation for your family, lodging while moving, or packing and shipping any goods, your pet may be part of that too. There are a few requirements to meet such as the distance and time of the big move.
Pet Providing Service for Business
Does your pet have a job of their own? Maybe they work alongside you on your farm to help guard a herd of goats. Maybe they’re a star in a movie or advertisement or work as a performance animal. Do they have their own successful social media account or breed adorable puppies that you sell? All of these examples could qualify for deductions. It may be the food used while breeding, travel cost to get them to the movie set or anything else that involves caring for your animal. If you start a hobby with pets that turns into a business, remember to officially establish this new venture in order to deduct related expenses.
Now that you know of the many ways you may be able to claim your pet, talk to your accountant for guidance. There are requirements they can help you untangle, but the universal rule is to keep good records. Save those receipts! And, thank your sweet, furry friend for any savings!
If you found this interesting, check out these related stories:
Appreciating The Joys Our Pets Bring
Pets Make Life Healthier For Their Pet Parents