Can I claim tax deductions for my German shepherd?
This is an all too familiar question when you sit down to crack the numbers on dog’s expenses. Indeed, the pet industry is by no means small – and that means you’re speinding BIG!
The American Pets Products Association estimates that us pet parents in the U.S spent $99 billion on their pets in 2020. Wow that’s amazing – and most of this amount is from dog food and veterinary services.
With that much spending, it’s a sure thing that these furry beings are treated just like family. But the IRS doesn’t quite agree with that. According to the Internal Revenue Service, dog expenses are personal and thus do not qualify for tax breaks.
But that doesn’t mean it’s entirely impossible to get deductions on your annual tax return. Under very specific circumstances, you can actually claim an item tax that relates to your GSD. Take a look below to see if you qualify.
Possible Tax Breaks for Dog Owners
Charity Donations to Dog Charities
The IRS allows you to claim tax deductibles to dog charities but one caveat – the charity you’re donating to should be recognized under IRS as a nonprofit organization.
Note that the donations here aren’t just limited to money.
It can be food, property, fostering a dog, or even a volunteer service you’re offering to that charity or rescue home. In this case, these are unreimbursed costs that you’re covering yourself and you can claim the corresponding amounts as tax breaks.
Other costs potentially eligible for a tax break may include tolls, parking fees, and gas.
But there are other limitations – apart from the fact that your charity of choice must be officially recognized by the IRS. According to the tax code, you cannot claim breaks for:
- The cost of adopting a German shepherd – or any other dog for that matter.
- The approximate cost of donating a room in your house for rescue dogs.
- The value of your volunteer time
Of course, for any expenses that are not reimbursed to you, make sure you keep an accurate record. This is the only way you can prove you donated whatever goods or service you’ll later claim. Ask the charity or dog shelter to issue you with either a receipt or a letter of acknowledgment for your volunteer work.
You can claim a medical deduction on your tax bill if your German Shepherd is trained to provide assistance to you if you have any kind of disability like visual problems and reduced hearing.
And the assistance here is very specific according to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
A service dog must be able to take a specific action whenever the need arises to help his human companion. Being comforted by the mere presence of your dog doesn’t qualify him as a service animal. So if your German shepherd is just a good ole’ companion and playmate you stand no chance of getting a few bucks off your tax bill.
That means emotional support dogs and therapy dogs cannot be termed as service animals and the associated expenses are not tax deductible.
You can include all the expenses on your dog in your medical deductions as long he meets the criteria for a service animal. The expenses here include the cost of buying your dog, maintaining, and training him. That’s pretty much every dog cost.
Again, it helps if you have good records to back your claims just in case you have to answer a few questions. For starters, you must have a letter from your doctor proving that indeed you have a condition and an accompanying recommendation that you could benefit from a service animal.
Aside from that, you should also have proof that your dog is a trained service animal – of course, from a dog organization specializing in service animals. And finally, you should keep all the receipts of the various expenses associated with your dog that you can claim a tax deductible on.
German Shepherds as Guard Dogs
This is specifically for business. Your German Shepherd must watch over your business premises if you want a few dollars off your total tax amount. So no, you can’t claim a tax break on your furry buddy if he’s just a family pet – he must be a certified guard dog.
Additionally, he must also be part of the traditional guard dog breed – at least that’ll be one hurdle clear with the German Shepherd.
The deductions here are pretty much identical to what you’d expect for service animals above – training, vet visits, and food. Yes, records on these expenses will once again make things easier for you.
You can also include the total time the GSD spends on duty as a guard dog. The cost of the dog itself is, however, out of bounds as far as tax breaks go.
To include it, you must depreciate the cost over the dog’s expected lifespan. Your local dog breeder will certainly be of great help with this.
Your Perfect Farm Dog!
Farm dogs are basically just guard dogs on a farm since their role is pretty much looking over – just in a different world. They can be responsible for stuff like herding and guarding farm animals and keeping the farm free of would-be intruders.
That’s a business expense which qualifies as a tax deductible. If you’re a farmer and keep your GS for this purpose, be sure to keep track of your expenditure on dog food and vet visits to be clear on how much you’re supposed to claim and a backup for your claims.
Just like for guard dogs, you can’t claim a tax break on the initial cost of your dog(s).
Moving Your Dog
A tax deductible for moving your dog? Quite unbelievable, right? This is a considerable relief seeing as how dog moving costs can blow up real quick – especially for medium to large breeds like the German Shepherd. Plus, it’s one heck of a process. It’s easy to end up pretty drained after switching locations.
However, and it’s a big one – the IRS only allows for tax deductibles on dog moving expenses if the move is connected to work – for instance, if you’re moving to a different city after landing a new job. And even if your moving is job-related, you still have to jump through a few hoops to claim a deductible from moving your dog.
For instance, your move must coincide with you starting to work at your new place – or at least be close enough. Also, you must work for at least 39 weeks in your first year of moving.
Your Dog is Your Business
If your relationship with dogs is a little more on the business side, then you’re entitled to tax benefits as much as the next establishment. What is it that you do?
- Dog Sitting
Basically, any activity that you charge dog parents to help with their pooches. Standard business deductibles will apply so be sure to speak to a tax professional to get to the very end of this. In the case where the dogs belong to you like breeding, tax deductible expenses will include vet appointments, food, grooming, and even training.
Of course, you must have those records updated just like any other biz out there.
It’s not always a given to get tax deductibles for your Fido expenses. The IRS simply doesn’t consider him a dependent even though you see him as part of your family. No worries, though – you can claim expenses associated with your dog under some very specific circumstances.
Which of the above do you fall under? You know the answer.
Just be sure to consult a tax professional for some even deeper insights into these deductibles.
The information given on this post does NOT replace that given to your by your tax professional – we are NOT providing you with finance or taxation advice. You should always seek professional advice.