Tax Deductions for Pets

Apr 13, 2013

Are you sure I am not deductible?
Credit KNorton

Most folks know that expenses related to the care and well-being of a pet are not deductible on an individual's income tax return.  Or are they? 


With the deadline coming up for filing personal income tax returns, a lot of us are looking for deductions wherever we can find them.

More than one pet owner has thought about deducting a few extra medical expenses for those veterinary bills last year. After all, the vet is a “doctor” and your pet is a member of the family – a dependent, really, in the truest sense of the word.

In fact, a few years ago Michigan congressman Thaddeus McCotter introduced the HAPPY bill – the Humanity and Pets Partnered Through the Years Act. The bill would have allowed a pet owner to deduct up to $3,500 a year for qualified pet care expenses.

The bill stated that 63% of American households own a pet and that “the human-animal bond has been shown to have positive effects upon people’s emotional and physical well-being.” Unfortunately the HAPPY bill has not been passed yet.

Still, there are some circumstances in which you can deduct pet care expenses.

If you have a visual or hearing impairment or other disability for which you have a service animal, the costs related to caring for the animal are deductible as a medical expense.

If you have a pet-related business, you may be able to deduct animal expenses. For instance, if you are in the business of breeding certain animals, food, housing and veterinary care all might be considered necessary costs of doing business and would be deductible on your business return. However, it must be a real business and not just a hobby. Other examples would be veterinary practices, pet groomers, and operations whose business is boarding animals for pet owners.

One last bit of good news for those who foster pets for a qualified nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, you can deduct your expenses for things like pet food, cat litter, vet bills. As with all tax deductions, keep your receipts and really good records.

For the rest of us, well, we just have to remember to be grateful for the non-taxable benefit of having a devoted companion to share our lives, when we’re speaking of pets.