ITEMIZED DOG FOOD DEDUCTION

Dear Davi,

Is my human allowed to claim me as a dependent on his tax return?

Yasmin the Yorkie

Hi, Yasmin,

I’m a dog, not a tax expert, but pet dependent? Forget about it. The IRS takes the view that only human dependents can qualify for personal exemption. However, I did manage to dig up some tax deductions that are legit for some pets.

Moving: If your family is uprooting, your moving expenses are deductible. That’s right, the IRS says your costs are covered when relocating to new digs. Even better, you don’t have to itemize deductions to claim moving costs, including those spent on getting you from point A to point B. The catch? Typically the move has to be for work — your human’s work — and the new job must be at least 50 miles away from your former home.

Guard Dog: If you are the dog standing behind the “Beware of Dog” sign at your human’s business, you might be a tax break. The IRS allows taxpayers to deduct the cost of care for dogs protecting business property. Keep in mind that these claims carry more weight when the dog looks and plays the part. So even though a Dachshund, like me, has a loud bark, the tax claim is more credible if the guard dog is a German Shepherd, Rottweiler or Doberman Pinscher. The catch? You must actually be guarding something, like a gated property, warehouse or business inventory. Your services, not you, are what’s being deducted.

Service Dog: If your human needs your assistance for a medical issue they have, like a visual, hearing, or physical disability, disorder or condition, the costs for your food, medical care, and your training can be a write-off. The catch? Fetching treats for your owner while he chills on the couch doesn’t qualify. By law, service dogs are trained and licensed, with special documentation. The golden rule is that your human must be able to prove a close tie between his medical condition and the service you provide. Therapy animals can also qualify, but they must be trained or certified as treatment facilitators for the IRS to approve the deduction.

Foster Dog: If your family decides to foster a pet for approved charities, they may claim the expenses at tax time. So things like pet food, supplies, and veterinary bills could all be deductible in this case. Even a portion of utilities can be considered expenses, as long as a specific area of the house is used only for the care of that animal and nothing else. The catch? The taxman wants proof that these expenses are directly tied to foster care. Be sure your family keeps the receipts, cancelled checks, and documentation from the organization to make the claim. An approved charity is one that’s recognized by the IRS as a not-for-profit organization.

As with most questions about tax refunds, when it comes to deducting pets and pet expenses, the answer is usually “It depends.” Be sure your pet parents talk to a tax professional before claiming any deductions. Good luck!

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