Deducting Your Pet Costs

Chris Wittich

Wondering if you can deduct your pet costs?  People often treat their pets like children, but no matter how much money you spend on that pet the tax code doesn’t allow you to claim your pet as a dependent.  In general the expenses for the family pet won’t be tax deductible, just like the expenses for the family habit of playing poker with M&Ms won’t be deductible, those are personal expenses and not tax deductions.

There are a few situations where you might have animal related costs that are tax deductions, but if you think about those the animal is not serving the purpose of a family pet, they have an entirely different purpose.

Seeing eye and other service dogs and their related costs are allowed as a medical expense.

Clearly they are animals that have a medical purpose, they might be considered the family pet but their real purpose is one of a medical expense so the costs are deductible.

A dentist office that has a fish tank in the lobby that they maintain can deduct the costs of that fish tank, but at that point the fish aren’t a personal pet, they are a business asset.

Similarly a person in the business of training dogs for the Westminster dog show might have tax deductible costs but they also are operating a business that revolves around providing a service.  You certainly might enjoy the fish at the dentist office or the dogs you train for the dog show but they are business activities so you can consider them business expenses.

The family pet with solely personal enjoyment is not a tax deduction, but in the right situation you might have an animal with a business purpose.  I would be very careful before deducting any pet costs, but if it’s truly part of the business or a medical expense, then it can work.


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