Are Pets Tax Deductible?

Picture of male Boston Terrier standing on a green lawn with a stick at his feet.

From 2013 to 2021, American pet expenditures increased over 77%. No wonder many of us wish we could find a way to make our pets tax deductible! In some instances, non-farm animal expenses may be deductible under specific circumstances, but these deductions are limited and must meet certain criteria:

  1. Business Expenses: Animal expenses can be deductible if they serve a legitimate business purpose, such as security or pest control, and are reasonably related to the type of business. The business location, type of animal, and training for its intended function are all factors considered. Animals who both serve a business purpose and are kept as pets are not tax deductible.
    • Example Tax Court Cases: Rodriguez v. Comm. IRS 2009-22, Stone v. Comm. IRS 1998-437, Slawek v. Comm. IRS, 1987-438, Seawright v. Comm. IRS, T.C. 294 (2001)
  2. Charitable Deductions: Businesses can deduct donations to nonprofit animal shelters or rescues, but they must obtain written acknowledgment from the charitable organization. And the organization must be an IRS-approved 501(c)(3) organization.
    • Example Case: Van Dusen v. Comm. IRS, T.C. 515 (2011)
  3. Medical Deductions: Expenses for animals used to directly treat a specific disease or restore a bodily function may be deductible. This includes costs associated with acquiring, training, and maintaining a service animal for blind, deaf, or otherwise disabled persons. However, expenses for emotional support animals or animals providing general health benefits are not deductible.

While making pets tax deductible might help more unwanted animals find loving homes, the IRS and Congress have not done that yet. So before you deduct any animal expenses on your return, it’s crucial to understand the specific requirements and consult with a tax professional to ensure eligibility for these deductions.

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Gwen Harrison President

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