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Issue 974

Sam Mazzotta

Are Therapy Dogs Tax Deductible?

DEAR PAW’S CORNER: I spend quite a bit of money each year on my two Corgis: veterinary care, grooming, toys and a pet sitter. They’re also registered as therapy pets — so they earn their keep! With all that I spend, why can’t I write off pet care on my taxes? — Harold in Palo Alto, California

DEAR HAROLD: I hear you! Americans spent almost $96 billion on their pets in 2019, over $5 billion more than they did in 2018. But almost none of that can be deducted from federal taxes.

Here’s what you can’t deduct: medical expenses, training or maintenance (like grooming and pet sitters). Companion or comfort animals and many therapy pets aren’t eligible for tax deductions.

Here are the few deductions that are possible:

* If you have a service animal — one that is trained to assist those with specific medical conditions, such as a guide dog for the blind or a service dog that assists those with mobility or neurological issues — the costs of buying, training and maintaining that service animal may be deductible.

* If an animal is employed at your business — such as a guard dog or the star of your Instagram empire — you may be able to take a deduction on your business taxes. But be prepared to explain how the pet is essential to your business.

* If you donate money or goods to a registered nonprofit animal shelter or animal advocacy group, this counts as a charitable deduction. Make sure to get a receipt.

* Finally, you can set up a trust fund to care for your pets should they outlive you. Talk to an estate attorney about this option and any potential tax benefits.

Send your tips, comments or questions to ask@pawscorner.com.

(c) 2020 King Features Synd., Inc.

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