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Can You Claim a Tax Credit For a Pet? Pet Deductions 101


Some people consider pets to be a lot like children. They’re cute, loving, playful, attention-craving, and they can’t wait for you to get home.

Like children, pets rely upon you to support them, which can get expensive. Add to that veterinary bills, grooming, licenses, cleanup, and repairs caused by pet damage, not to mention the cost of the pet itself, and it can really add up.

While there’s not a specific pet tax credit, you may be eligible for tax deductions as a pet owner if you qualify under specific rules. For example, if your pet is a service animal, then you can write off pet-related expenses, like medical costs associated with service animals, which could help you save money when tax season arrives. Here’s everything you need to know as a pet owner.

Is there a pet tax credit?

The IRS doesn’t offer a pet tax credit, but that doesn’t mean you can’t lower your tax liability as a pet owner. You may be able to claim certain pet-related expenses to reduce your tax liability even though there’s no pet tax credit in 2023. 

Keep in mind that only certain pet-related expenses can be claimed on your taxes.

Can you write off pet expenses?

According to the  American Pet Products Association, Americans spent more than $136.8 billion on their pets in 2022. (That’s a billion with a B.) Of that, $58.1 billion was spent on pet food and treats, with another $35.9 billion spent on vet care and product sales.

So, in light of these jaw-dropping statistics, it doesn’t seem that silly for tax-paying pet owners to wonder: “ Can I get some compensation for my contribution to those billions?”

In some cases, you might be able to.

We’ll discuss some of the pet expenses you may be able to write off below. Keep in mind that you can only write off these pet-related expenses if you meet certain criteria.

Service animals

Service-animal-related expenses may be eligible for a tax write-off because your pet is providing a medical service to you. You can write off any medical expenses that exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income, which may include service animal expenses.

In order to write off pet-related expenses for your service animal, you’ll need to prove that your pet provides a specific medical service to you. This may include guiding a blind person or providing support during a seizure. 

So, how do you go about doing that? You can get a note from your physician to prove that your service animal provides a medical service.

Foster pets

If you foster a pet for a 501(c)(3) adoption organization, you may be able to write off unreimbursed expenses. Write-offs for foster pets may include:

  • Pet food
  • Vet bills
  • Supplies

You can also deduct 14 cents per mile on any charity-related driving. Note that this typically excludes commuting to and from the organization you’re affiliated with.

Make sure you’re fostering a pet from an IRS-qualified 501(c)(3) if you want to qualify for a write off. Foster pets from nonqualified organizations aren’t eligible for charity-related write-offs.

Performance animals

You may also qualify for a pet tax deduction if they perform in a way that earns you income. For example, you may be able to write off pet-related expenses if your pet works on a movie set, is a pet influencer, or competes in events that offer cash prizes.

If you have a performance animal, make sure you keep records of all the related expenses. The records you keep will determine what you’re able to claim and how much you’re ultimately able to lower your tax liability.

Is pet insurance tax deductible?

Pet insurance may be tax deductible. For example, pet insurance can be tax deductible if your pet is a service animal or performs in a way that contributes to your annual income.

Are pets considered dependents?

Am I allowed to claim my pet as a dependent on my tax return? Although the IRS doesn’t specifically spell it out, it’s tacitly implied that dependents — at least for taxation purposes — must be human. 

So, unless your little furry friend is considered a business expense, like a guard dog used to protect your business, or can be claimed as a medical expense like a seeing-eye dog, you likely can’t claim him as a dependent.

How to claim pet expenses on your taxes

In order to claim pet expenses on your taxes, the animal must qualify as a service animal and as part of your itemized medical expenses you can include the costs of buying, training, and maintaining your service animal. This may include the costs of things like food, grooming, veterinary care and other costs related to maintaining the health and wellness of the service animal so that it may perform its duties. 

If your pet is making money as an influencer, it could be viewed by the IRS as your own self-employed business if your pet is generating income for you in the dog modeling/acting category on a regular basis. In some cases, pet-related expenses could be considered business expenses and offset against your pet’s earnings.

Don’t worry about knowing these tax rules — focus on hanging with your pet! No matter what moves you made last year, TurboTax will make them count on your taxes. Whether you want to do your taxes yourself or have a TurboTax expert file for you, we’ll make sure you get every dollar you deserve and your biggest possible refund – guaranteed. 

TurboTaxBlogTeam
TurboTaxBlogTeam

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