Can You Claim Pets on Taxes?
You may be able to write off pet care depending on the role they play in your life. If the animal provides service and emotional support or is a working animal, the expenses are tax deductible. Understanding what tax deductions are available as a pet owner can help reduce your tax burden.
- Written by Ebony J. Howard, CPA
Ebony J. Howard, CPA
Credentialed Tax Expert at Intuit
Ebony J. Howard is a certified public accountant and freelance consultant with a background in accounting, personal finance, and income tax planning and preparation. She specializes in analyzing financial information in the health care, banking and real estate sectors.Read More
- Edited ByLamia Chowdhury
Lamia Chowdhury is a financial content editor for RetireGuide and has over three years of marketing experience in the finance industry. She has written copy for both digital and print pieces ranging from blogs, radio scripts and search ads to billboards, brochures, mailers and more.Read More
- Reviewed ByBrandon Renfro, Ph.D., CFP®, RICP®, EA
Brandon Renfro, Ph.D., CFP®, RICP®, EA
Retirement and Social Security Expert
Brandon Renfro is a Retirement and Social Security Expert and financial planner. He focuses on helping clients create a secure financial future in retirement and co-owns Belonging Wealth Management. He is also a former finance professor and writes for several publications.Read More
- Published: April 21, 2023
- Updated: May 22, 2023
- 8 min read time
- This page features 11 Cited Research Articles
- Edited By
- For service animals, the IRS allows deductions for pet-related costs as medical expenses exceeding 7.5% of adjusted gross income (AGI).
- To get a tax deduction for working animals, you must prove the animal is “ordinary and necessary” in your business operations.
- Common deductions for pet owners are training classes, grooming services, food, supplies, transportation costs, veterinary care, boarding fees and pet insurance.
Tax Deductions for Pet Owners
According to the American Pet Products Association, Americans collectively spent a total of $136.8 billion on pets in U.S. in 2022. For most, having a pet as a member of the household or workplace plays an important role in everyday life, but it may also feel like caring for a dependent. While pets cannot be claimed as dependents on your tax return, certain circumstances may be available to you.
Pet owners can find relief in the form of tax deductions. The IRS allows pet owners to take pet-care-related deductions for service animals, animals that work for a business, performance animals and foster animals.
Understanding all the deductions and tax breaks that may be available to you as a pet owner is key to reducing some of your tax burden. It’s important to keep detailed records of your pet-related expenses to ensure a simple process when writing off those expenses during tax season.
Service & Emotional Support Animals
Service animals are common for people with physical disabilities or diagnosed medical conditions, such as epilepsy, blindness and post-traumatic stress disorder.
As a pet owner of a trained or certified service animal you are allowed to deduct costs related to the care as medical expenses on Schedule A (Form 1040). Other expenses that may be deductible are training classes, grooming services, food, supplies, transportation costs, pet insurance and veterinary care to ensure that your animal is healthy to assist you.
Keep in mind, the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) doesn’t allow tax deductions for emotional support animals (ESAs), which are animals that provide comfort and aren’t trained or certified.
If you have a business and your animal works for your business, then pet-related expenses may be deductible as a business expense.
For example, you may be able to claim a deduction if you use a guard dog to protect your business premises or have herd dogs working on your farm to herd livestock.
You would need to prove that the animal is “ordinary and necessary” in your business operations to qualify. You can get a tax deduction for having working animals in your business for expenses such as training classes, food, supplies, medical care, grooming services, pet insurance and boarding fees.
Keep good records of these expenses and the time your animal spends working at your business as evidence to claim these deductions. A deduction for these expenses only applies to the animal’s working hours.
When your pet or animal generates your income, you may be able to deduct them as a business expense. Examples of performance animals include those featured in advertising, television shows and movies. In addition, if you run an animal breeding business and have animals for sale, then you could deduct the pet-related expenses for that as well.
Expenses that can be deducted are training, food, supplies, veterinary care and boarding. Be mindful that if your business doesn’t yield a profit in at least three of five consecutive years (or at least two of the last seven years for activities that consist of breeding, showing, training or racing horses), the IRS may classify it as a hobby and prevent you from claiming a loss related to the business.
For animal lovers, fostering pets is a great way to provide service to charitable organizations, but it requires you to spend additional money. However, unreimbursed expenses related to the care of foster pets may be deductible on your tax return to help relieve some of the financial burden.
- Costs paid for veterinary care, food, grooming, medical treatment and pet supplies.
- Additional cleaning supplies purchased to care for the foster.
- A portion of utility bills that increase due to fostering.
- Travel-related expenses for volunteer work at a shelter or rescue agency. The IRS allows you to deduct 14 cents per mile, which is the standard mileage rate for using an automobile for charitable organizations.
These expenses qualify as charitable contributions and are deductible up to 60% of adjusted gross income to 501(c)(3) qualified charities, depending on the type of contribution and charity.
Any money donated to an animal charitable organization can be deducted as well.
Be sure to keep track of your mileage, hold on to your receipts, and keep detailed logs of donations, including names of charitable organizations and descriptions of donations as proof.
Other Pet-Related Tax Deductions
According to findings from the American Veterinary Association (ASCPA), the average total pet care costs in 2021 was $1,391 for a dog and $1,149 for a cat. The ability to write off some of those pet care costs can provide relief depending on the circumstances. Other pet-related deductions can come from moving and medical expenses.
Moving expenses related to pets may be tax deductible if your move is job-related or if you own a pet-related business. The IRS allows you to deduct pet transport costs, lodging fees and carrier costs of shipping your pet to your new home.
But as of 2018, under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) the tax rules changed for deducting job-related moving expenses, allowing only military members moving expense deductions on Form 3903. Prior to the tax law change, all pet owners could take deductions for moving expenses under a few conditions.
- The new place of employment was 50 miles away from your old home compared to your old place of employment.
- When you started your new employment, you must have worked full time for at least 39 weeks during the first year.
- As a condition of employment, you were required to live at the new home.
In contrast, there are no rules to claiming these expenses on a business return in a pet-related business.
Medical expenses may be deductible on your tax return if you have a certified service animal. You can deduct for animals that perform specific tasks such as retrieving bags with medication, assisting you with walking or picking up items, opening doors, turning on/off lights or calming you when you have anxiety.
The IRS allows you to deduct pet medical insurance and costs for the care of a service animal as medical expenses if your total medical expenses exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income. This must be presented as an itemized deduction on Schedule A of your Form 1040 tax return.
To claim a tax deduction, be sure to keep documentation that your service animal is certified and trained for treatment of your specific illness. It’s important to have a doctor’s prescription that proves the service animal is medically necessary.
Pet Trusts: Protecting Your Pet’s Future
A pet trust is a trust created in retirement or estate planning that allows a pet owner, also known as the “grantor,” to leave money for the care of their pet in the event of the owner’s death.
It appoints a trust company, family member or other individual as the “trustee” who arranges the proper care of the pet. The pet trust also names a caretaker, beneficiary or shelter organization to take possession of the funds to care for the pet and pay for pet expenses.
The pet owner has the option to create a pet trust as either a living trust or a testament trust as part of the will for when the owner dies. Pet trusts are important for tax purposes because in a testamentary trust, the assets may be affected by estate taxes under IRS federal estate and gift tax rules.
- The trust must pay income tax on any income retained in the trust.
- The pet owner or grantor will be taxed on any trust income if the pet trust is revocable.
- The guardian or beneficiary will have to pay income tax on the distributions up to the amount of the trust’s taxable income.
Frequently Asked Questions
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11 Cited Research Articles
- Internal Revenue Service. (2023, April 4). Topic No. 502, Medical and Dental Expenses. Retrieved from https://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc502
- Internal Revenue Service. (2023, March 6). Abusive Trust Tax Evasion Schemes – Questions and Answers. Retrieved from https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/abusive-trust-tax-evasion-schemes-questions-and-answers
- Internal Revenue Service. (2023, February 13). Publication 526 Charitable Contributions. Page 14. Retrieved from https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p526.pdf
- Internal Revenue Service. (2022, December 29). IRS Issues Standard Mileage Rates for 2023; Business Use Increases 3 Cents per Mile. Retrieved from https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-issues-standard-mileage-rates-for-2023-business-use-increases-3-cents-per-mile
- Internal Revenue Service. (2022, October 5). Instructions for Form 3903 (2022) Moving Expenses. Retrieved from https://www.irs.gov/instructions/i3903
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASCPA). (2021) Cutting Pet Care Costs. Retrieved from https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/cutting-pet-care-costs
- The American Disabilities Act (ADA). (2020, February 28). Frequently Asked Questions About Service Animals and the ADA. Retrieved from https://www.ada.gov/resources/service-animals-faqs/
- Burr Forman LLP. (2017, May 26). Tax Law Insights – Pet Trusts. Retrieved from https://www.burr.com/tax-law-insights/pet-trusts
- Internal Revenue Service. (2008, June). Is Your Hobby a For-Profit Endeavor? Retrieved from https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-news/fs-08-23.pdf
- American Pet Products Association. (n.d.). Pet Industry Market Size, Trends & Ownership Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.americanpetproducts.org/press_industrytrends.asp
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASCPA). (n.d.) Pet Trust Primer. Retrieved from https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/pet-planning/pet-trust-primer
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