Saturday, January 11, 2014

Veterinary Tax Deductions

Fraser Sherman, Demand Media Even if you love your pet like a child, you can't claim him as a dependent. People have tried that, but the IRS says no way. A bill to make pet costs tax deductible came before Congress in 2009 but as of 2013, it hasn't become law. Until that changes, animal owners, with a few exceptions, don't get to write off vet bills.


The days when "service animal" only meant "seeing-eye dog" are long gone. Dogs work with the deaf to alert them to dangerous sounds, and they can be trained to pick up and carry items for people with disabilities. The cost of a service animal counts as a tax deductible medical-expense. That includes not only buying and feeding the animal but whatever you need to keep it healthy, including veterinary care.


For years the IRS insisted that the cost of fostering stray or injured animals wasn't tax-deductible. If you just take in a stray kitten you found on your doorstep, it still isn't deductible. If, however, you foster animals as part of your work with a 501(c)3 animal-welfare group -- one you can make tax-deductible donations to -- you can now write off your expenses, including veterinary care . If you reserve part of your house for fostering, you may be able to deduct part of your utility bills as well.


If you can tie your animals to your business, you have a valid write-off. For instance, if you have a guard dog patrolling your junk yard after hours, the expenses associated with the animal are a legitimate write-off .Farming, training performing dolphins or breeding dogs professionally, even if it's part-time, are all businesses. If the animal is a necessary business asset, taking care of her is deductible. If you simply bring the family cat to work, the auditor probably won't won't be impressed.


Business expenses are deductible on the same form you use to report your business income, typically Schedule C. Medical and charitable write-offs require that you itemize: if you take the standard deduction, it's a no-go. Medical deductions are particularly tough. You have to add up all your deductible medical bills, then subtract 10 percent of your adjusted gross income. What's left is all you get to write off. The complete list of approved medical expenses is in IRS Publication 502.


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