Is There a Pet Tax Credit?

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Some people consider pets to be a lot like children. They’re cute, loving, playful, attention-craving, and they can’t wait for you to get home.

Like children, pets rely upon you to support them, which can get expensive. Add to that veterinary bills, grooming, licenses, cleanup, and repairs caused by pet damage, not to mention the cost of the pet itself, and it can really add up.

While there’s not a specific pet tax credit, you may be eligible for tax deductions as a pet owner if you qualify under specific rules. For example, if your pet is a service animal, then you can write off pet-related expenses, like medical costs associated with service animals, which could help you save money when tax season arrives. Here’s everything you need to know as a pet owner.

Is there a pet tax credit?

The IRS doesn’t offer a pet tax credit, but that doesn’t mean you can’t lower your tax liability as a pet owner. You may be able to claim certain pet-related expenses to reduce your tax liability even though there’s no pet tax credit in 2023. 

Keep in mind that only certain pet-related expenses can be claimed on your taxes.

Can you write off pet expenses?

According to the  American Pet Products Association, Americans spent more than $136.8 billion on their pets in 2022. (That’s a billion with a B.) Of that, $58.1 billion was spent on pet food and treats, with another $35.9 billion spent on vet care and product sales.

So, in light of these jaw-dropping statistics, it doesn’t seem that silly for tax-paying pet owners to wonder: “ Can I get some compensation for my contribution to those billions?”

In some cases, you might be able to.

We’ll discuss some of the pet expenses you may be able to write off below. Keep in mind that you can only write off these pet-related expenses if you meet certain criteria.

Service animals

Service-animal-related expenses may be eligible for a tax write-off because your pet is providing a medical service to you. You can write off any medical expenses that exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income, which may include service animal expenses.

In order to write off pet-related expenses for your service animal, you’ll need to prove that your pet provides a specific medical service to you. This may include guiding a blind person or providing support during a seizure. 

So, how do you go about doing that? You can get a note from your physician to prove that your service animal provides a medical service.

Foster pets

If you foster a pet for a 501(c)(3) adoption organization, you may be able to write off unreimbursed expenses. Write-offs for foster pets may include:

  • Pet food
  • Vet bills
  • Supplies

You can also deduct 14 cents per mile on any charity-related driving. Note that this typically excludes commuting to and from the organization you’re affiliated with.

Make sure you’re fostering a pet from an IRS-qualified 501(c)(3) if you want to qualify for a write off. Foster pets from nonqualified organizations aren’t eligible for charity-related write-offs.

Performance animals

You may also qualify for a pet tax deduction if they perform in a way that earns you income. For example, you may be able to write off pet-related expenses if your pet works on a movie set, is a pet influencer, or competes in events that offer cash prizes.

If you have a performance animal, make sure you keep records of all the related expenses. The records you keep will determine what you’re able to claim and how much you’re ultimately able to lower your tax liability.

Is pet insurance tax deductible?

Pet insurance may be tax deductible. For example, pet insurance can be tax deductible if your pet is a service animal or performs in a way that contributes to your annual income.

Image of a man with a can sitting on a park bench with a service dog.

Are pets considered dependents?

Am I allowed to claim my pet as a dependent on my tax return? Although the IRS doesn’t specifically spell it out, it’s tacitly implied that dependents — at least for taxation purposes — must be human. 

So, unless your little furry friend is considered a business expense, like a guard dog used to protect your business, or can be claimed as a medical expense like a seeing-eye dog, you likely can’t claim him as a dependent.

How to claim pet expenses on your taxes

In order to claim pet expenses on your taxes, the animal must qualify as a service animal and as part of your itemized medical expenses you can include the costs of buying, training, and maintaining your service animal. This may include the costs of things like food, grooming, veterinary care and other costs related to maintaining the health and wellness of the service animal so that it may perform its duties. 

If your pet is making money as an influencer, it could be viewed by the IRS as your own self-employed business if your pet is generating income for you in the dog modeling/acting category on a regular basis. In some cases, pet-related expenses could be considered business expenses and offset against your pet’s earnings.

Don’t worry about knowing these tax rules — focus on hanging with your pet! No matter what moves you made last year, TurboTax will make them count on your taxes. Whether you want to do your taxes yourself or have a TurboTax expert file for you, we’ll make sure you get every dollar you deserve and your biggest possible refund – guaranteed. 

38 responses to “Is There a Pet Tax Credit?”

  1. I have dogs (all adopted) and that is my choice just like children are a choice. Although my pets depend on me I don’t think they should be claimed as a dependent but I do wish I could deduct a percentage of the cost to care for them (food, medical, etc). Validation of existence would have to be part of the process and that’s ok and doable just like any other deductions. Pets are playing a bigger part in our lives these days therefore why not get some credit for their care. PS. I care for a family of 5 including myself but get taxed as a single and can only claim as a single. No “Head of household” or “Married” or “child dependents” but my costs similar.

  2. I just want to point out for the last point that there are certain humans who don’t pay income tax either when their only income is non-taxable.

  3. What if I entertain clients by having my dog dance, beg, sit, play dead, roll over, bark the national anthem, and juggle three cats on fire… could I claim him as an entertainment expense?

    • Hi Donny —

      You may be able to deduct some of your animals’ expenses as a business expense. An entertainment expense might be a bit difficult to prove to the IRS. As a cat owner (and dogs too!) I do hope the cats don’t get burned! You can use TurboTax Home & Business if you file a Schedule C. If you are incorporated you’ll need to use TurboTax Business.

      — Joanna

  4. Hmm, so you are telling me that babies or children pay taxes? Okay firstly in case you weren’t aware, children do not work or have any source of income to be deducted state or local taxes, neither do animals. They’re both not taxed. Secondly, the reason why you get to claim a child is because you are paying taxes for all the expenses that come with having a child which is exactly the same process animal caretakers have as well. You must not have a pet to state such a ridiculous conjecture.

  5. It seems to me that allowing deduction of sterilization and immunizations of pets would be a protection for the public as well as controlling the feral animal population.

  6. I also agree we should be able to claim our pets for all the reasons mentioned in previous comments. In addition I think that we are contributing to the welfare of many animals in particular when we adopt from animal shelters that are overcrowded with animals that need loving homes and are at risk of being put to sleep because there’s no space for them. Of course they will not grow into taxpayers but they provide love and research shows they help to reduce stress which can help to reduce human medical costs. They improve our quality of life as well…it’s a win-win situation for both pets and pet parents. Animal welfare is a social issue and that should count for something and we should be rewarded for it by being able to claim them on our taxes. But that would be way too progressive for this country.

  7. This is not true. the only people that can claim a tax deduction are service animals. I just looked it up on the IRS website. As long as they are service animal and if you shelter animal for animal shelters there are some tax deduction you can deduct for them as well. Just check with the IRS in your state to see what they tell you.

    I am from Texas and I did call one time to the IRS to see if they have a tax deduction for the vet and food bills. The gentleman I talked to at the time told me they were working on some type of pet tax deduction, but it got put on the back burner. My suggestion to you, would be to call for yourself and don’t forget to write down the date, time and the person you talked to when calling the IRS. That away you are hearing from the horse’s mouth.

  8. Human children are “freeloaders” too. I do pay taxes on my dogs whenever I buy them food, medicine, take them to the vet, drive them anywhere, buy them anything really. If you rent, you typically pay a non-refundable deposit.

  9. The government makes me pay annual yearly taxes for my pet! In my state they take my money every year but yet they don’t contribute a dime to the welfare of my animal. The government is so corrupt they want me to pay taxes on my animal and will penalize me if I don’t but I can’t file that pet on my taxes.

  10. Pet’s have laws in place to protect them. A person can go to jail if they hurt or abuse a pet. Animals can be victims of crimes… We can’t claim any deductions on them, yet we are forced to pay for health insurance for ourselves or pay a penalty? If I neglected my pet, I would go to jail. If I neglected my child, I would go to jail. Our laws treat them as humans, but no our tax code? I guess you could make them part of a “pet trust”. According to 26 US Code § 7701, which states, the term”United States person” means ANY TRUST. One could write of the cost of “maintaining” the trust… Just saying..

  11. Doesnt sunrise me the way the government screws the american people anyway and getting worse

  12. We’ll I don’t really agree with your statement “dogs don’t pay taxes so why should the government provide tax incentive to the owner of these adorable freeloaders”.well they should pay you at least something because when you buy toys,food,medicine,shampoo etc we have to pay taxes on all of those things plus more,so why not get something back.

    • I don’t agree with this article, you state Pet’s do not pay taxes, but by law they are considered personal property, which us HUMANS pay taxes on, so what is the difference? WE still pay for our pets, as we do for our houses, and vehicles which is considered personal property, so it makes no sense for us not to be able to claim them.

      • That’s true, we buy them food, take them to the Vets, etc and that’s all taxed so yes they do pay taxes. All of us pet lovers/owners should get together and fight to make our politicians change the laws and make Pets accepted as the dependents they truly are. It’s all up to us, we love our pets so let’s fight for them.

    • Give it up. You’re asking the government to give you money for your option to take on the responsibility of a pet. Getting money back from the government means you mismanaged your money in the first place! You gave uncle Sam an interest free loan last year. It’s not an annual bonus, it’s a statement that you didn’t do your financial part correctly! Strive for ZERO on the owed/refund tax line and then present your pet tax case to the government.

      • Its an option to have a child and at times IT JUST HAPPENS. I think its very logical for Americans to claim pets on their taxes.

      • Are you nuts? Getting a refund doesn’t mean you mismanaged your money. That’s the dumbest comment I’ve ever read on taxes in my life. Your refund isn’t dependent on what you spent… rather, what your exemptions and credits and deductions are and what your income was.

    • I agree with what you said! And a lot of Humans don’t pay taxes when they grow up, so whats the reasoning there?

  13. yes I think WE should claim are pets we hav to register them in our state to hav them .feed them make sure they are licenes hav shots make sure they have medcial care if get in trouble get them out pay a fine clean up there messes (poop, Pee) in someoneelses property and protect them and for them to protect us last time I remember dogs mans best freind police get goverment funding for there dogs &taxs breaks and if u hurt their dog u are charged with hitting an officer so my clyde has a job he plays with us clyde protects us clyde is our family when clyde got loose u took him to pound (i call it doggie jail)

    • Your dog is more of an accessory, not a dependant. People spend thousands of dollars on image alone, a pet can’t pay taxes.

      • I agree that a pet cannot pay taxes, But then again. . . neither can an infant, or any child for that matter till they are at least old enough to join the workforce. so the argument that a pet cannot pay taxes is in vain.

  14. It’s weird because people that depend on the government for support and do not work are still allowed to file taxes. How is it any different if I file for my dog as my dependent?

  15. They certainly have not trouble asking 300 dollars for a deposit, a 150 non refundable fee and 20 dollars a month pet rent in apartment buildings. Add to that the 60 dollar a month health insurance bill, unless they intend for me to put a dog down every time he gets sick and the 165 dollars a year just for his annual check up. And that is before food, pee pads, leashes, treats, toys, training lessons. For someone in their age 50’s childless and living alone, a dog is an emotional necessity. They let people breed with utter disregard to their income. Apartments don’t even charge child rent. They expect my dog to go out and get a job to pay his share? It is a real expense and for some people a real necessity and for everyone a real responsibility. If dogs were claimed as dependents I bet we would see a lot fewer of them on the streets, in rescue and dying in KILL facilities. Maybe it is time to stop being fascist nazis toward our pets.

    • I think it depends how much you spend on your pets. Pets are a choice ,however this year my dog was very sick and I spent thousands. Pet insurance says seizures are prexisting, not covered. I do wish since I have to work more to pay for this, I could get a little break. However not at the expense of our schools, fire, police , etc.

  16. i bet if my dog was making thousands of dollars a year advertizing and commercials that the government would take their share .sighned Porsha the dog itself.

  17. Worth asking and I do appriciate the answer. Hey, that’s not a real photo of me, I have a nose and it’s a honker!

  18. Okay… Yes, Kids don’t CURRENTLY pay taxes, but they have the “potential to grow into adult taxpaying” people… you can not claim that of pets. They remain dependent until they die. I love my pets, and they are an importent part of our family… however, they aren’t people. What’s next, claiming house plants?

    • I wonder what argument you would make for people on disability? Furthermore, parents don’t have to pay “kid rent” to land lords. They don’t have to put down a 300 dollar deposit with a 150 dollar non-refundable fee added to the insult of 20 dollars a month.

      • I read an article from an ex irs agent last week, to which I cannot find now, but it stated no you cannot claim your dog but if you have a service dog you can claim it’s costs, ex food vet bills etc. My daughter has 2 therapy dogs, and because they are trained dogs she is not required to pay any extra dep for the dogs. She has gotten hasseled with a few landlords trying to invade her “HIPA” rights wanting her to sign a form so they can get information from her doctors. She just then contacts the ADA.

    • Okay, so I shouldn’t get tax exemptions for children that will never be able to work (and won’t be able to pay income tax), or disabled adults? House plants are just items. There’s no argument for claiming objects.

  19. If (ALL)the hard working tax payers in this country would pertition congress,maybe some changes would be made.After all the money is money that we have sweat and bled for.And our pets are our constitutional right to our persuit of happiness.

    • I wouldn’t think you can claim a pet. There are some MAJOR differences in the two. I know so many people that get dogs or cats for free. the IRS should give us a 3900 deduction for claiming a pet that someone can get for free? Can’t really do the exact same thing with kids. If that was the case the government would be more broke