It is that time of year again—tax season. As you are sitting down to fill out your tax returns, and sorting through pay stubs, 1099s, and 1040s, make sure you’re getting the most out of your deductions and maximizing your savings. Most people are aware of the common deductions for things like charitable donations, dependent care and education expenses, but there are more unusual deductions you may qualify for.
While your pets may be dependent on you, they still cannot be claimed as dependents on your tax returns according to the IRS. But there are still some tax deductions you may still be able to claim as a pet owner in order to maximize your savings.
1. Volunteering with Animals
Do you volunteer at an animal shelter or with a rescue organization? The costs of doing so may be deductible as a charitable donation. Keep track of your mileage travelling for the organization; it is deductible at 14 cents per mile. Be sure to request a letter from the charity acknowledging your volunteer work to avoid any issues. The IRS can request your records and will expect formal documentation.
2. Foster Pet
Fostering pets for a qualified, tax-exempt charitable organization is another way to qualify for a charitable deduction. While many organizations cover most costs of caring for a foster pet, any additional expenses you incur are deductible. Make sure to get documentation from the group you work with and maintain good records.
3. Donating to Animal Charities
Did you donate to animal-related charities last year? If those donations were to a qualified non-profit, you can also deduct them by itemizing them under Schedule A in your return in the “Gifts to Charity Section.” When donating to a charity, you should receive a receipt or other documentation from the group. Be sure to keep a record of this in case it is requested
4. Raising Guide and Therapy Dogs
Raising guide and therapy dog is a great way to give back, and it can also be a way to save on taxes. If you are raising a dog with a qualified organization, all expenses associated with raising the dog including dog food, veterinary bills, and gas mileage are considered a charitable donation. Check with the organization you work with for more information.
5. Guard Dog
If you have a guard dog to protect your business, you may able to claim some of the costs including food, training expenses and veterinarian bills, as a business expense. But remember, size and breed can matter here. While you may feel protected by your pet Dachshund, the IRS is likely not going to agree that he is truly providing security. Also, make sure you keep records of the dog’s hours and intended purpose in case they are requested.
6. Pest Control Cat
Have a cat that works to keep your business free of mice and other pests? You may be able to deduct the cost of its food and veterinarian bills as a business expense. In order to claim a cat as a working pet you’ll need to make a clear case that keeping the animal is common and accepted in your trade or business and maintain clear records.
7. Service Animal
If you need a guide dog or you have a medical condition that benefits from a trained therapy animal, you can deduct the animal’s expenses as a medical expense. Though your cat or dog may provide comfort to you, only animals that are trained and certified to treat a diagnosed condition will qualify.
8. Moving a Pet
If you moved for work in the past year and had to pay to transport your pet, the associated expenses are deductible. Because pets are legally considered property, you should include the costs of transporting them as another item in your moving expense deduction.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act brought many changes to tax laws this year, so be aware that things may look different as you begin filling out your tax forms. The biggest change is that the standard deduction was raised to $12,000 for single filers and married filers filing separately, $24,000 for married filers filing jointly and $18,000 for heads of household. This change makes it more likely that you will take the standard deduction rather than itemizing your returns. While the standard deduction is easier, itemizing may save you more money, so be sure to check for all qualifying pet and non-pet deductions before deciding which option is best for you.