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Home > Dog Health, Dogs and the Law > Are Tax Deductions for Pet Care Expenses Coming?

Are Tax Deductions for Pet Care Expenses Coming?

September 23rd, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Will Dog Owners Soon be Able to Deduct Pet Care Expenses?

U.S. Representative Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI) has introduced the Humanity and Pets Partnered Through the Years (“HAPPY”) Act – H.R. 3501.  If passed, the HAPPY Act would amend the IRS Code to allow a deduction for pet care expenses.

HAPPY Act Would Give Pet Owners a Tax Deduction for Certain Expenses

The HAPPY Act, H.R. 3501, Would Help Families by Allowing a Tax Deduction for Pet Care Expenses

The HAPPY Act, H.R. 3501, Would Help Families by Allowing a Tax Deduction for Pet Care Expenses

H.R. 3501, if passed, would give an individual taxpayer an allowable deduction for the amount of the taxpayer’s “qualified pet care expenses” for any “qualified pet.”  Qualified pet care expenses would include “amounts paid in connection with providing care” for the pet, including veterinary care.  Expenses associated with acquiring the pet would not be deductible, however.

The maximum allowable deduction under the proposed legislation would be $3,500.

A “qualified pet” is defined in the bill as any “legally owned, domesticated, live animal.”  Animals used for research or in connection with a trade or business will not be considered qualified pets.

HAPPY Act Would Encourage Responsible Pet Ownership

Most pet owners want to do the best they can for their furry family members.  But with pet care costs rising all the time, providing routine care such as regular heart worm medication and flea and tick preventatives can be a financial burden.  Add in the cost of veterinary care for illnesses, and some families have a difficult time giving their pets everything they need.

The HAPPY Act would encourage responsible pet ownership by allowing pet owners a tax deduction of up to $3,500 for expenses associated with caring for their pets, including veterinary care.

The ASPCA Supports H.R. 3501

The ASPCA has issued an “Advocacy Alert” asking animal advocates to support the HAPPY Act, H.R. 3501, by contacting their U.S. representative and urging him or her to support and cosponsor the bill.

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  1. October 6th, 2009 at 15:01 | #1

    I’m not so sure this is such a great idea. (but i’m not against it either) I’m a cynic and a “markerter” and think of how things like this can be used for “advantage.” Can you imagine all the “adoptions” that would happen with less than “caring” homes just so they can get the deduction? Geez, I can’t imagine all the “Vick-like” people (who haven’t been exposed) getting a “deduction”!

    On the other hand it is great for those who are in a bad situation in the economy and undergoing foreclosures who have to get rid of their furry friends… i don’t know. if the pet owner is in such bad financial shape to undergo a foreclosure, i’m not so sure $3500 would be all that helpful anyway.

    what do you think as a lawyer? just curious.

  2. Suzanne
    October 7th, 2009 at 13:54 | #2

    @Wild Dingo
    I’m not really sure the bill is going to go anywhere, to be quite honest with you. Although it has very recently picked up a co-sponsor in Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN-9), it still sits in the Ways and Means Committee and has since July. I think it is really more of a touchy-feely offering by Mr. McCotter so he can tell his constituents, “See? I’m looking out for you guys by trying to get you a tax break on your cuddly puppies!”

    Beyond that, the bill does seem fairly broad. Although the definition of “qualified pet” expressly excludes animals used in conjunction with a trade or business (think breeders), it does not limit the number of “qualified pets” for which any individual may claim the deduction. Crazy Cat Lady on the Simpsons might be able to afford to go back on her meds if she can get a tax deduction for taking care of all those hundreds of cats.

    Additionally, there is nothing in the bill that specifies how a taxpayer verifies that a qualified pet belongs to him or her. Although it does define “qualified pet” as a “legally owned, domesticated, live animal,” would that include, for example, (speaking of Crazy Cat Ladies) the stray cats that swarm around my mother’s back door every morning because they know she’s good for a handout? Technically, because they do appear to be strays, and they show up every day for their daily handouts, my mother could say she “legally owns” those cats. They don’t belong to anyone else, and she more or less takes care of them. So, the lack of specificity with respect to verifying that one owns the pet is a bit bothersome. (Even children need social security numbers in order to be little tax deductions, after all!)

    Further, it does not seem to provide any limitations with respect to what constitutes “qualified pet care expenses” except those expenses incurred in connection with the acquisition of the pet. So, theoretically, in addition to the vet bills and the flea and tick control products and the dog food, I could deduct the hundreds of dollars a year I spend on chew toys that last 15 minutes, tops. And maybe the boarding expenses for when I travel. And the rugs my dogs have destroyed. (They needed something to chew, having demolished all their chew toys!)

    All of that having been said, the bill could undergo revisions that would narrow its scope a bit. But I just don’t see it happening. I think it will die a lonely death in committee, its sponsor and co-sponsor no worse off for having put it out there.

  3. October 8th, 2009 at 16:04 | #3

    Very interesting perspective. see… they don’t tell us this stuff in the media. only a legal person would know the politics. I’m kind of glad it won’t go through. I mean, ya, it would be nice to have for “qualified pet owners” with a “qualified pet” meaning…you’re not abusing your animal in anyay and keeping it in the house just to get a deduction. (ie not feeding it… that poor policed dog that starved to death from its owner a COP!) sigh. we (as a nation) just don’t do right by animals in so many ways. a tax break isn’t gonna help them. changing opinions on how to respect animals will.

  4. Suzanne
    October 8th, 2009 at 16:45 | #4

    @Wild Dingo
    I couldn’t agree more! It is nice to think of a tax deduction for vet bills and other legitimate expenses associated with caring for our furry or feathered family members. But this particular amendment to the tax code, HAPPY as it sounds, would need to be narrowed down *a lot* to make any sense!

  5. December 20th, 2009 at 23:26 | #5

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