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Most dog owners consider their furry friends to be a part of the family. We don’t need to cover the countless benefits dogs provide to everyday life, from genuine companionship to being a built-in workout buddy. What you might not know, however, is how your dog can help you with your taxes.
If you just pictured Fido wearing a tie and glasses while he looks over your returns, you’re not alone.
But, that’s not quite what we mean. There are several different instances in which you can file your taxes with dog-related write-offs, deductions, and expenses. Depending on what you do with your dog and what their purpose is (other than being the best boy!), they could actually end up saving you money when you go to file.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at how your dog can impact your taxes, and what you can do to use them as a deduction or write-off.
What Can You Claim as a Write-Off?
Not every pet owner is going to be able to write off things about their dog. But, certain situations can be used to your advantage. For example, if you got your fur baby from a shelter, the expenses might be able to be used as a charitable write-off. If you regularly donate money or supplies to that shelter, you can write those off, too.
Another claim you can make on your taxes is if you need medical help and your dog assists you. If you have a condition such as blindness, or you’re hard of hearing and you have a guide dog, you can include any expenses toward them in your overall medical expenses that get written off. Even emotional support animals used for mental health support can be written off.
While you can’t claim your pets as dependents on your taxes, it’s not impossible to write off their expenses when they serve certain purposes. Whether your dog is a part of your business, or you need them just to get around every day, do your research on how they can end up saving you money on your taxes.
What If Your Dog is a Part of Your Business?
Many pet lovers start businesses that allow them to do what they love while being around animals all the time. Some common jobs working with dogs include:
Even dog walkers can write off things like their mileage, cell phone bills, and business supplies used to book clients and make arrangements. If you’re willing to get creative, you can write off more from your business than you might think.
If you work with your dog every day, you may be able to deduct their expenses from the business side of your taxes. But, what about your personal taxes? They’re your dog, right? Not a business partner? What happens if you run a business not related to animals, but your pet serves as a guard dog. Can you write off their expenses based on how much time they spend guarding?
It can get a bit confusing to know how to separate business and personal expenses, to begin with. When you through a four-legged wrench into things, it becomes even more confusing. One of the best things you can do if you have a business that works with animals is to contact an accountant.
Thankfully, with the rise in remote work, you can find an accountant that fits your needs almost anywhere in the world.
Even if you work with dogs but don’t technically run a “business”, you might still be able to claim certain things. For example, if you regularly foster dogs for a local shelter, you can claim those expenses! That includes everything from food to any medical bills you might take care of for them while they’re staying with you.
In some situations, the IRS will treat your dog as an actual member of your family – though, not many. One such situation is if you’re moving. You might be able to deduct your moving expenses – including your dog’s belongings. If they needed food, toys, or special care throughout your move, save those receipts and they can be used on your taxes.
The expenses are viewed as no different from any other part of your personal effects. While it gives a more “humanistic” quality to your dog, that’s really not the point. Rather, it allows you to care for your dog when you’re going through a stressful move, and possibly make money from it later.
Whether you want to work with dogs, you’re a proud shelter parent, or you’re looking for a few ways to effectively write off certain things about your dog, keep these ideas in mind. Your furriest family member might be able to save you more money than you realize each year if you know which claims to make and how to file correctly.
Jori Hamilton is a writer from the pacific northwest. You can follow her on Twitter @HamiltonJori and see more of her work at writerjorihamilton.contently.com.
They are our family. Thanks to our pets for being with us. Thank you too for sharing this with us.