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- Updated: September 20, 2022
- This page features 4 Cited Research Articles
Adopting a pet isn’t cheap, and the care costs add up quickly. Families with a furry companion looking to save may ask, “Can you claim pets on taxes?”
The short answer is probably not. The IRS considers pet-related costs personal spending and doesn’t generally offer tax deductions. However, working animal costs and donations that benefit animal-based nonprofits may offer tax benefits.
If you’re wondering if your furry friends qualify, here’s what you need to know about pet tax deductions to get your finances in order.
Pet Tax Deductions
Pet tax deductions are generally only for working pets. This includes unpaid working animals like service and farm dogs, as well as animals that generate income through acting, social media or other means.
There are a few additional ways you can save with animal-based deductions. If you foster animals or donate to local animal shelters, you can list money spent on the animal or donations as charitable gifts on your taxes.
How much you can claim on your taxes and the specifics of reporting your animal expenses vary by case. Ask a financial advisor if you can claim pets on taxes.
Tax Benefits for Service Animals
Service animals are highly trained to execute specific medical and accessibility-related tasks. These furry friends are more than a pet — they’re considered a medical tool to help people navigate daily life safely.
Costs associated with the care and purchase of a service animal are tax deductible. These costs can include:
- Purchase of a trained animal
- Professional training
- Vet and medical care
- Service-related costs (grooming)
True service animals are certified to perform a service task for a specific person. Guide dogs may be the most well-known example of a service animal, though animals can be trained to identify blood sugar levels, assist persons experiencing seizures or detect allergens.
Service animals can also be trained to assist people with emotional support through a specific job. This differs from emotional support animals (ESA), which provide comfort but aren’t trained for comfort and do not meet service dog standards.
The Americans with Disability Act (ADA) doesn’t consider ESAs service animals, and they don’t qualify for tax deductions.
To receive tax benefits for service dog care, individuals must be able to:
- Prove medical necessity
- Prove the animal is certified to perform the specific service job
These are also requirements for valid service animals, so most handlers have these criteria ready to go.
Tax Deductions for Dogs With Jobs
Dogs (and other furry friends) with paid and unpaid jobs are eligible for tax deductions. Pet employment opportunities include:
- Animals in show business
- Guard animals
- Pets at a themed event (cat cafe)
Owners must be able to validate that their pet provides a service to their business to qualify. They’ll also need documented hours the animal worked and receipts for all tax-deductible care expenses.
Pet Income and Your Taxes
In addition to tax breaks for your pet’s hard work, you should claim pet-produced income on your personal taxes. You can also list the pet’s care as business expenses for an extra deduction.
The rise of animal influencers has popularized pet-based side hustles on social media, but there are plenty of ways your pet may produce an income. Racing horses, security dogs and livestock count, too.
The IRS only considers income from licensed businesses. This means your bouncing bunny’s Instagram account may not apply if it isn’t monetized and registered with your county.
Consult a financial advisor if you’re unclear on what income counts for your family.
Foster Pet Tax Deductions
Fostering pets is a wonderful way to give back to the community and welcome love into your home. Generally, rescue organizations will cover care and medical costs, but you can write off up to 60 percent of your annual gross income on any expenses you cover.
Eligible expenses can include:
- Unreimbursed care costs
- 14 cents per mile driven while volunteering (excluding commute to and from the rescue)
Your personal investments can earn you tax deductions, but your personal time spent volunteering or fostering doesn’t qualify. You can also donate money to local animal organizations to count toward your charitable deductions.
Pet Moving Expenses Are Deductible
If you’re moving for a new job, you can report the cost of transporting Fido for a tax benefit. This is a great opportunity for some families, but you have to meet this criteria first:
- The move must correlate with the start of work.
- The new job must be 50 miles farther from your prior residence than the previous position.
- You must work full time for 39 weeks during the first year at the new job.
This means big moves for your career are covered, but if you’re looking for a change of scenery the next neighborhood over, the IRS won’t offer additional deductions.
Estate Planning for Pets
Your pet is a lifelong companion and you may need to plan for their care after you’re gone. Owners can prepare a will or trust to designate a beneficiary and pet caregiver.
Your trust designates who’s responsible for taxes, such as:
- Yourself, in the case of a living trust
- Your trust’s beneficiary and pet caregiver
- The trust itself
You can also plan to donate part of your estate to an animal shelter or other organization. Donations from an estate or trust to qualified nonprofits may qualify for a tax deduction.
Pet Tax Deduction FAQs
Check out these common pet tax deduction questions before filing for Fluffy’s vet costs.
Are Pet Medical Expenses Tax Deductible?
Medical expenses for certified service animals are tax deductible. Other service animal expenses including training, grooming and care are also tax deductible with proper documentation.
Medical expenses for pets that don’t provide a specific medical service, including ESAs, don’t qualify for tax benefits.
Can I Claim My Dog As a Dependent?
No, pets aren’t dependents and the IRS considers their care costs as personal expenses. You may claim income your pet earns on your taxes, and you can also receive tax deductions for care of working animals, including:
- Guard animals
- Search animals
- Hunting animals
Can I Claim an Emotional Support Dog On My Taxes?
No, emotional support animals are not service animals and you can’t receive tax deductions for their care. ESAs and therapy dogs provide comfort and companionship, but they aren’t trained for a specific task to benefit a person with a disability as service animals are.
ESAs are protected by the Fair Housing Administration (FHA), but they’re not afforded the same rights as service animals by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Pet parents know the love animals bring into our lives. They also understand the rising cost of their pets’ care and may be looking for pet tax deductions to manage their budget. While working and service animals offer some tax benefits, most people can’t claim pets on their taxes.
So can you claim pets on taxes? Consult a financial advisor to learn more about your opportunities to save with the IRS.
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4 Cited Research Articles
Annuity.org writers adhere to strict sourcing guidelines and use only credible sources of information, including authoritative financial publications, academic organizations, peer-reviewed journals, highly regarded nonprofit organizations, government reports, court records and interviews with qualified experts. You can read more about our commitment to accuracy, fairness and transparency in our editorial guidelines.
- América Retail. (2021, July 22). Marketing Digital: Aumenta un 33,6% el Gasto En Marketing de Influencers. Retrieved from https://www.america-retail.com/marketing-digital/marketing-digital-aumenta-un-336-el-gasto-en-marketing-de-influencers/
- Instagram. (2021, June 10). Creator Week Q+A with Adam Mosseri. Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com/p/CP9DDRyhJvj/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=embed_video_watch_again
- ASPCA. (2021). Cutting Pet Care Costs. Retrieved from https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/cutting-pet-care-costs
- BarkBox. (2017, January 11). New BarkBox Study: Dog People Post About Their Dog on Social Media Six Times Per Week. Retrieved from https://bark.co/articles/new-barkbox-study-dog-people-post-about-their-dog-on-social-media-six-times-per-week/