Is Your Dog Tax Deductible?

Learn about circumstances under which dog-related expenses are tax deductible.

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Dogs can be expensive--what with pet food costs and veterinary bills; not to mention the cost of buying and training a dog in the first place. Dog expenses are ordinarily personal expenses that are not tax deductible. However, there are some instances where Fido can save you dough on your taxes.

Service Dogs for the Disabled

Seeing-eye dogs used by the blind and other service dogs used by the disabled are a deductible medical expense. You must register the dog with an agency declaring that it is a service animal. If you do so, you can deduct as an itemized medical deduction expenses such as pet food, training, medication, and vet bills.

Guard Dogs for Businesses

If you use a guard dog to guard your business premises, you can deduct the cost as a business expense. However, you can't claim that your family pet is a guard dog. It should be a certified guard dog, and be a member of a traditional guard dog breed such as a Rottweiler, German Shepherd, or Doberman Pinscher.

If you used a certified guard dog for your business, you can take a current deduction for the cost of dog food, vet bills, training, and other expenses of keeping the dog. However, the cost of the dog itself must be depreciated over seven years or deducted in one year using IRS Code Section 179.

Dog Breeders

A person in the business of breeding and selling dogs may deduct all his or her business-related expenses, just like any other business. This would include things like dog food and veterinary care, as well as rent, advertising, and other business expenses. The breeding activity must be a legitimate business, not a hobby.

Farm Dogs

A farmer or shepherd who uses a dog to herd or guard cattle, sheep, pigs, or other farm animals can deduct the cost of keeping the dog as a business expense. The cost of the dog itself must be depreciated over seven years or deducted in one year using IRS Code Section 179.

Donations to Dog Charities

If you donate money or property to a tax-exempt dog shelter or other tax-exempt charity that helps dogs, you may deduct the amount as a charitable deduction if you itemize your deductions. If you donate property, you can deduct the fair market value of the item--for example, if you donate dog food, you can deduct the price of the food.

However, you may not deduct:

  • an adoption fee or adoption donation you make to adopt a dog
  • the value of the time you spend volunteering at a dog shelter, or
  • the value of donating space in your home to rescue or foster dogs.

You can deduct unreimbursed expenses you pay out of your own pocket while volunteering for a dog shelter or other dog-related nonprofit. For example, if you use your car to help deliver supplies for a shelter, you can claim unreimbursed parking fees, tolls, and gas, or deduct a flat rate for each mile you drive. If you foster dogs in your home, you may deduct reasonable expenses you pay yourself, such as dog food expenses and veterinary bills.

April 2013

by: , J.D.

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