Service Dogs
Tax Deductible Service Dog Expenses

Tax Deductible Service Dog Expenses

Tax Deductible Service Dog Expenses? If you have a service animal, you’re probably wondering if they are tax-deductible. The answer is yes! Service animals can be considered to be medical expenses and therefore the costs associated with them qualify as deductions on your taxes.

Tax Deductible Service Dog Expenses

Service dogs are often treated like family members, so it’s no surprise that some owners would want to take advantage of any tax deductions possible for their furry friends. Service animals are considered to be medical expenses, so the costs associated with them qualify as deductions on your taxes.

Tax Deductible Service Dog Expenses

We have talked before about “Service Animals” and what they really are.

  • Service Dogs (or horses) are trained to a specific person’s medical condition.
  • Emotional Support Animals are not trained but there to comfort a person – from anxiety to PTSD and can be anything from a dog to an iguana.
  • Therapy Animals travel to places with their handler and aid those in nursing homes or hospitals.

We are going to cover the rules and regulations on all of those, according to how the IRS sees them.

Tax Deductible Service Dog Expenses

Let’s start with service dogs:

– Service animals are medical expenses. You can only deduct them if you itemize your deductions. They are clarified as:

A service animal is any guide dog, signal dog or other animal that is individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task of a trained service animal must be directly related to the person’s disability.

Service animals must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered, unless these devices interfere with the service animal’s work or the individual’s disability prevents the use of these devices.In those instances, the individual must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal, or other effective controls.

These are not pets. At all.

That being said, the handler usually has an amazing relationship with their dog and there is a lot of play and bonding time together. These dogs are not on duty 24/7 but always seem to keep an eye on “their person”.

Let me pull up the code change from 2019:

How much is the tax deduction for service animals? In order to write off your service animal as part of your unreimbursed medical expenses, you’ll need to itemize your deductions. And your total medical expenses, even those not related to a service animal, must be greater than 7.5% of your AGI for the tax year 2019.

Whew. What is covered? Pretty much everything you would have to shell out for Fido: Cost of purchase, training expenses, Vet bills, food, meds like flea and tick prevention, and even grooming. That vest or special collar that some sites tell you that you HAVE to have, but the ADA says you don’t? That is deductible too.

Remember I said to NOT register your service dog because it is a scam? If you did, that would be deductible also.

You can include in medical expenses the costs of buying, training, and maintaining a guide dog or other service animal to assist a visually impaired or hearing disabled person, or a person with other physical disabilities. In general, this includes any costs, such as food, grooming, and veterinary care, incurred in maintaining the health and vitality of the service animal so that it may perform its duties.

Publication 502,

Yup – Me taking Tazuna to get her nails trimmed every three weeks is a deduction!

Most of those are easy to track – remembering to keep the grocery receipts from the dog food might be your largest challenge.

As we have talked before about service dogs being anywhere from $3-30K, that is GREAT news for the average handler!

Tax Deductible Service Dog Expenses

Now let’s talk about Emotional Support Animals:

Nope. Not at all.

These dogs (or iguanas) are not trained to a specific person, for a specific task.

There are a few exceptions here.

Mental disabilities or psychiatric service dogs are generally labeled as assistance dogs and therefore, eligible as a deduction.

That means y’all with PTSD, anxiety, depression, or other psychiatric issues can claim your 4-legged family member as a deduction too. Here is the caveat:

A simple doctor’s note unlocks many medical deductions. If your therapist suggested a companion animal to soothe your bouts of anxiety — and you went out and bought one — then yes, the emotional support pet counts.

If you HAD the dog first, it isn’t going to work for you, if you get audited.

Seeing as that would make your ESA an “assistance” animal – you would be entitled to the same deductions as the Service Animal people.

Tax Deductible Service Dog Expenses

If it is a no — then sorry, no deductions for you.

Are Therapy Animals tax deductible?

Yes, and No.

You cannot deduct them on your personal taxes under your medical expenses. They aren’t trained to work with ONE specific person – they help multiple people.

Now, if you have a business where you take your dog/ animal to hospitals, nursing homes, etc, and get paid? You have a business. Your dog just became a write-off for your Schedule C – business. When your pet generates income for you, you may be able to deduct some or all of your expenses.

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This one is murky and I suggest you have a little chat with your personal CPA (Certified Public Accountant).

It really isn’t clear if things like food are covered, but all licenses and regulation veterinary care seems to be. It seriously is worded differently in different areas that I have researched as to what is exactly covered. If you invest in a “uniform” for your pooch /iguana then that should be a deduction also.

Regardless of your situation, make sure you have your i’s dotted and t’s crossed – have it in your personal medical records if it applies, save all receipts, and talk to your tax prep person. Be sure to keep track of all pet expenses and retain receipts diligently so that you can maximize your claims. Any pet-related expenses that are not covered under the above criteria don’t usually qualify as deductions.

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