IRS help for pet owners is sorely lacking right now.
For example: Don’t even think that you can claim your dog as a dependent on your 1040 tax form. You cannot simply “write off your dog.”
According to Turbo Tax, the tax preparation company, “Although the IRS doesn’t specifically spell it out, it is tacitly implied that dependents — at least for taxation purposes — must be human.”
H&R Block, meanwhile, says the IRS made this crystal-clear some years ago when it rejected a taxpayer attempt to write off the boarding costs of his dog as a travel expense when he went away on a business trip.
Pull a stunt like that one and you’ll want to find a good tax attorney.
Pet Owners ALMOST Got Relief
Not long ago, there was a glimmer of hope that pet owners would see a change in the rules. That’s because in 2009, a U.S. Representative introduced legislation known as the HAPPY Act — short for the Humanity and Pets Partnered Through the Years Act.
The legislation — which NPR boasted as a possible “four-figure tax break for our four-legged friends” — would have granted individual taxpayers a $3,500 IRS deduction for pets per year (not per pet) for “qualified pet care expenses.” Those expenses would have included veterinary costs and other day-to-day costs of raising a pet.
What Happened to the HAPPY Act?
Unfortunately, that promising tax legislation went nowhere. Several years later, it’s safe to say it’s dead in the water.
Obviously, getting any sort of IRS deduction for pets like the one imagined by the doomed HAPPY legislation would be very welcome. After all, Americans spend a reported $55 billion or more annually on their pets. A tax deduction would encourage pet ownership — not to mention help decrease animal shelter populations across the country.
Were you hoping to get a tax break for caring for a pet? Don’t be too dejected — maybe there’s hope in the future. Leave me a comment below. You might also want to check out my previous post on how cases of salmonella in pet food have exploded over the past few years. If you enjoyed this article, you’ll love Pets Adviser’s popular email newsletter. It’s free to sign up, and you’ll also be among the first to get alerts about major pet food recalls: Learn more here.