Can you deduct your dog or cat’s medical expenses? Don’t give up on deducting your dog’s vet visits just yet; they may be worth more than you thought. There has been a lot of gray area as of late regarding exactly what is an allowable tax expense when it comes to your family pet. After all you do provide him food, shelter and water in the same way you provide it for little Joe and Jane. So why can’t you claim the furry one as a dependent?
The real meat of deducting anything for your pets – whether it is medical expenses or food, depends solely on whether or not your pet is a service pet or an employee. Yes you read that correctly…keep reading…
To quote directly from the IRS; “Veterinary Fees: You generally cannot include veterinary fees in your medical expenses, but see Guide Dog or Other Service Animal.”
Another quote directly from them; Guide Dog or Other Service Animal
“You can include in medical expenses the costs of buying, training, and maintaining a guide dog or other service animal to assist a visually impaired or hearing disabled person, or a person with other physical disabilities. In general, this includes any costs, such as food, grooming, and veterinary care, incurred in maintaining the health and vitality of the service animal so that it may perform its duties.”
Service Dogs as a Tax Deduction
The gray area lies in the definition of a service animal. If you really want to deduct your pet’s medical expenses it may be worth it to find out if you can train your pet to become a certified service animal. This notion seems to be catching on. I once saw a toy dachshund (a very small wiener dog for those don’t know what a dachshund is) allowed on a lap on a plane because it was apparently a service animal. Hmmm…..
Working Dogs as a Tax Write-Off?
There also have been allowable deductions in cases where your pet becomes an employee. Like in the case when a business owner was allowed to claim cat food and vet visits for his handful of cats because he kept them to chase away mice and snakes from his junk yard. Guard dogs can also be put on the employee roster. But to avoid the “audit-me” button, Cliff Ennico, Business Attorney states “You’ll only be able to deduct that portion of his or her total time devoted to ‘guard-dog’ duty.” And “your dog most also be guarding your inventory.”
Turbotax is the perfect software to help you figure out how and where to deduct your pet’s medical expenses if by definition it qualifies as allowable. And they offer some great coupons for TurboTax during tax season here. We also have a great new alternative this year, offering you a 20% discount on all H&R Block tax prep software.
Deducting Your Dog’s Vet Bills on Taxes: A Red Flag?
All that being said, it’s wise to keep all receipts associated with pet expenses just in case you decided to claim them and your return flags an audit. Be prepared to justify your actions. Now where did my Chihuahua, er…I meant – chief guard dog go to?