Dollar and a cat

Pet Expenses That Are Tax-Deductible

For most people, getting a dog or cat is a choice for personal reasons. Pets give us love and companionship and they make us happy, so paying for their care is a personal expense. For the most part, that’s the position the IRS takes when it comes to filing your taxes, and because of that, your pet is not tax deductible. However, there are certain exceptions to the rule. This is not meant to be a complete guide or legal advice, so consult your accountant before you make any claims on your taxes. That said, here are a few circumstances where your pet’s expenses might qualify for a tax refund.

Guard Dogs For Businesses

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If your dog guards your place of business for security purposes, you may be able to claim your pup’s food, training, and veterinary bills as a business expense. This isn’t as easy as just declaring every day Take Your Dog To Work Day, though. Breed matters, so your Chihuahua probably won’t qualify as a guard dog, but your Rottweiler might. Also, you need to keep strict records about your dog’s work hours and work-related purpose. There is precedent for the IRS allowing guard dogs to be declared as a tax-deductible expense, so if everything is legit, it shouldn’t be a problem.

Pest Control Cats

cat and mouse
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A new trend for many businesses is to bring in cats for the purpose of keeping the building free of mice and pests. Chicago’s Empirical Brewery is one such business. If your kitty is keeping your workplace rodent-free, you may be allowed to deduct cat food and medical bills. Courts have set the precedent for this, allowing a couple that owned a junkyard to get a tax deduction after they routinely left cat food out to attract feral cats that would hunt mice in their lot.

Expenses For Hobby Income

Persian cat being held at cat show
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If you’re involved in showing off your dog or cat to earn some money, the IRS considers your earnings to be hobby income, and you may be able to deduct some expenses. For example, if you enter a pup in a dog show and earn prize money, you can deduct the cost of training and showing your pooch up to the amount that you earned. This can get tricky, as you have to itemize every expense and restrictions apply. But keep detailed records and consult your accountant to see if you qualify.

Foster Parents

Portrait Of Cat Holding Dog While Relaxing On Chair At Home
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A lot of our readers take on the tough job of fostering pets in need, so you may be excited to learn that expenses from fostering can be tax-deductible so long as a few conditions are met. First, you need to be fostering from a qualified nonprofit. Some shelters are not 501(c)(3)s, which means they aren’t a true nonprofit shelter, so make sure you check beforehand. Second, the expenses can’t be those that are already reimbursed by the nonprofit. Since most of these organizations provide food and medical care for those who foster pets, you may have already been reimbursed for expenses. But if you’ve spent money out-of-pocket, it’s technically a charitable donation and, therefore, tax-deductible.

Guide Dogs And Service Animals

Pet therapy series
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Since medical expenses are tax-deductible, an animal that you have for medical purposes will qualify for a deduction. You’ll need a prescription from a doctor prior to getting the animal and keep records of how it was specifically trained to help treat your condition. Your animal definitely needs to be trained and certified. If you meet these qualifications, you can get a tax break for training, food, medical care, and grooming. If you don’t need these animals for your own medical condition but train and care for them on behalf of a nonprofit that, for example, trains seeing-eye dogs, you maybe able to qualify, as well, since that would be a charitable donation.

Moving Your Pet

Tabby cat in pet carrier and Miniature Schnauzer sitting beside
(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

If you have to move because of work, the IRS will give you a break on the expenses associated with moving your pet, but again, it has to be a move specifically related to your work. If you meet a few requirements, you can deduct the costs of the move. First, your move has to be timed close to the start of your work. You also have to meet a distance requirement, which is that your new workplace must be at least 50 miles farther from your old home than your old workplace was. That can be confusing, but for example, if your old home was 10 miles from your old workplace, your new workplace must be at least 60 miles away from your old home. Finally, you have to be working at least 39 weeks out of the year or more the first year after you move. If you meet the requirements, you can write off the expenses of moving your pet.

What other tax deductions have you heard of relating to pets? Have you claimed any of these deductions on your taxes? Let us know in the comments below!

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