Dog Tax Write-Offs: Do They Exist?

by Sundays

Woman on bed petting dog with computer in front of her

Can you claim your dog on your taxes? The answer is: sometimes. But you have to make sure you fall into the right category to make legit deductions for dog care.

As a devoted dog parent, you take care of all your pet’s needs, year-round. So when tax season rolls around, you’re wondering if there’s such a thing as a pet tax credit or dog tax write-offs. 

Can you claim your dog on your taxes? The answer is: sometimes. But you have to make sure you fall into the right category to make legit deductions for dog care. Here are the ins and outs of dog tax write-offs.

Is there a pet tax credit?

It’s a legitimate question. There’s a child tax credit, and your dog is also your baby, or at least part of the family. And there’s no question that dogs are dependents–you pay for all their top-shelf food and treats, annual and surprise vet visits, and memory foam beds for each room, not to mention their trips to the groomer. 

Unfortunately, though, the IRS doesn’t quite see things the same way. There is no pet tax credit for dog dependents. And while they don’t specifically say that your dependents must be human, they will not find it amusing if you try to claim your pet as a dependent to get a child tax credit. 

You only have to look as far as Reddit to find the reasoning behind this:  

“...there's a compelling reason for the government to ease your taxes if you are supporting a family… that's in the government's interest. It's a much more difficult justification to make that there is a compelling government interest for the government for people to have pets. Not saying it's impossible - for instance, you could argue that without those people, animals would be roaming the streets amok.” –jbchapp

As jbchapp says, it’s not impossible–maybe one day there will be a pet tax credit. Until then, don’t try to claim your dog as your dependent.

Which dogs can get tax write-offs?

While there’s no such thing as a dog tax credit, it is true that you can write off some expenses of certain types of dogs on your taxes. The types of dogs you might be able to claim are service dogs, working dogs, foster dogs, and even dog influencers.

1. Service Dogs

If you do have a service dog (not a therapy dog), and you can answer yes to these questions, then they may be eligible for a tax write-off as part of your medical expenses:

  • Did your overall medical expenses exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income for last year?
  • Is your dog trained to provide a specific medical service, like guiding you while walking, giving you support during a seizure, alerting you to a sound, calming you during an anxiety attack, or helping you move around?
  • Was the dog “prescribed” for you as treatment for a medical disability?

And yes, it can be psychiatric help. To make a claim for either physical or mental disabilities, You’ll just need to have the proper documentation to back up your write-off:

  • A note from your medical provider stating why you need the dog and how they help with your physical or psychiatric disability 
  • An explanation of the tasks the dog performs for you
  • Receipts of the expenses related to the care of your service dog (training, food, vet bills, etc.)

2. Foster Dogs

Another type of dog that could be a tax write-off is a foster dog. Here are the questions to ask if you have one or several foster dogs:

  • Is the organization you foster from a 501(c)(3) animal shelter? 
  • Do you pay for the vet bills yourself?
  • Did you transport your foster dog to adoption events or to the vet and pay for your own gas and mileage?
  • Did you cover other expenses like food and pet supplies out of pocket for your foster dog? 

If the foster organization paid for these expenses, then you can’t also claim them on your taxes. Check with a tax professional on which types of expenses you might be able to claim for foster dogs.

3. Working Dogs

Does your dog actually have a job of their own? If so, they may be a tax write-off. You would need to own your own business, and your dog would have to be an integral asset. Here are some examples:

  • Dogs that provide pest control (rat chasers)
  • Dogs that chase off wild animals from harming livestock
  • Dogs that protect the business from intruders

With pets that perform these types of services for your business, you can claim deductions for their vet bills, food, and overall care.

4. Dog Influencers

It sounds totally made up, but there is a category that the IRS recognizes called performance animals. This doesn’t mean you have your pup in a traveling circus or make them perform in the subway for money. In fact, it could mean that your pup is a doggie influencer who makes money by:

  • Recommending and linking to certain pet products in social media posts
  • Having a monetized YouTube channel
  • Selling branded merchandise that features them on it
  • Giving exclusive access to content or a community through a monthly subscription
  • Getting paid for appearing in ads or commercials

Keep track of all your expenses for your pet as well as records of their money-making endeavors.

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