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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Tax Deductions For Pets

It's kind of an old joke now, but one I can relate to.  Many people wish they could add their pets as dependents on their tax forms, getting breaks and credits for the money they spend on care and food.  With eight pets of my own I agree that it would be nice.  Unfortunately the tax codes in most countries (though I can only really speak for the US) don't allow such deductions.

Or do they?

Today I came across a rather interesting and slightly provocative article entitled "Can I Write Off My Dog?"  Despite our wishes and the lead into the article, it still isn't easy.  But it can be possible!  There are limited circumstances where you actually can use your pet as a tax deduction.  Really it comes down to whether or not the animal is a legitimate medical necessity (service dogs and the like) or business expense (guard dogs, breeding expenses, etc.).  Thought the government doesn't include our fuzzy/feathered/scaly family members as true dependents, it's nice to think that there are a few situations where some people might get a tax break.

The topic also got me thinking in relation to the recent push in some areas of people being "caretakers" rather than "owners" and being able to sue for emotional damages related to pets and not just the actual value.  I think it's almost inevitable that society and therefore the legal system will continue to move towards pets as more than just specialized property, giving them emotional value as well.  If this happens then there is a strong likelihood that not properly caring for them could fall into the same category as failing to give emotional and medical attention to children.  And if we follow that line of thinking along its logical track, we open up the door for animals becoming honest-to-goodness legal dependents.  Once the government and laws grant animals legitimate emotional needs and personalities, then we go down the road of granting them limited "personhood".  And that means they are a specialized form of "child" rather than the current system where they are a special form of property.

Good or bad?  I'm not sure. 


  1. I thought up a brilliant way to kill 2 birds with one stone the other day. If you go to a shelter and rescue a pet, it's tax deductible. Otherwise, it's not. People might consider adoption more seriously if there was a financial benefit to doing so. I have friends who volunteer at shelters, and who get criticized because the shelter charges a $200-$300 fee. As I'm sure anyone who's taken an animal to a reputable vet would know, Heartworm meds, flea/tick meds, spays/neuters, repairing damage done by years of neglect... none of it's cheap.

  2. This reminds me of an article that a law-school student shared with me about divorced couples battling over custody of their pets. It's interesting to see how law and policy have to change as society's perception of animal welfare and rights also change.

  3. Hello, I just found your blog. I am a vet living in The Netherlands... and here, pets, well dogs, are actually taken into account in the taxes .


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