Can You Claim Animal Expenses on Your Taxes?

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While Americans would love to claim tax deductions on the money lavished on their pets, the Internal Revenue Services says that's barking up the wrong tree. You can't get a deduction for your furry friends, unless your animal expenses somehow fall in line with a small subset of expenses that can be deductible.

The Elusive Animal Tax Deduction

In certain limited cases, your animal expenses may get the go-ahead from the IRS as a tax deduction. Relocating your pet may be claimed as a deductible moving expense, for example. You do not need to itemize those expenses; instead, you fill out Form 3903 and file it along with your 1040. Other cases require itemization and various forms of proof that your mutt or pedigreed pooch is indeed eligible for the deduction.

Business Expenses

If your pooch, feline or other critter is critical to the running of your business, you may be entitled to a deduction. Hence, notes the "Wall Street Journal," the junkyard dog or the convenience store cat would be good candidates. However, financial publisher Bankrate warns, be prepared to fully document your animal's hours on the job and the manner in which it protects your inventory or property. It helps your case, for example, that a supposed guard dog is a breed that is appropriate for keeping intruders at bay and not a toy dog.

Special-Purpose Pets

Animal expenses may be included as part of your deductible medical expenses if the pet is a service animal that helps you cope with visual or hearing impairments or another physical disability. Eligible expenses would include food, grooming and veterinary care, as well as costs to buy and train the animal. The animal must be trained or certified to treat a particular illness or condition, and your overall medical costs must exceed 10 percent of your adjusted gross income to claim the deduction.

Charitable and Hobby

If you volunteer at an animal shelter or rescue group and offer your assistance in the form of fostering abandoned animals, any unreimbursed fostering expenses can be deducted. These expenses include food, supplies and veterinary bills and are itemized under the charity section of Schedule A. Pet expenses related to hobbies, including dog shows, may be used to offset any income earned through the hobby. However, as part of your miscellaneous itemized expenses, hobby expenses must be 2 percent of your adjusted gross income before they can be deductible.