Service Animals… Can I Write Off Their Expenses on My Taxes?

By Jamie Waggoner

If you have a service animal, can you write off the expenses for the animal as a tax deduction?  This is something many people have wondered about because, why not?  If you need the animal for medical purposes maybe there is a tax deduction associated.

 So, can you write off your service pet’s expenses?

I ended up researching this topic and I actually found that yes you can if you qualify for a service pet dduction, as long as you follow the IRS rules.  Keep reading to learn more…. 

Cost of Buying Service Animal: Tax Deductible?

As long as the service animal is needed for a legitimate medical purpose, the IRS has viewed this as an acceptable deduction, under the category of medical expenses.

When you are issued your service animal it is nice to know you can, generally speaking, write off that expense on your taxes.  The cost these animals will obviously vary but sometimes it can be costly to add this new member to your family.  After all it takes a lot of training to build up a proper service animal so there is cost built into this animal.

Did you know that some service animals cost $17,000 or more??!!?

If you are disabled then at the risk of stating the obvious you may not have a ton of extra dough laying around.  The fact that you can write off this expense on your taxes, or if you’re being claimed as a dependent on someone else’s taxes maybe they can get a write off, can lessen the true “after tax cost” of the animal.

Some people raise money to purchase a service dog from their community and if these monies are considered a gift, you may even be able to use that expense as a tax deduction even if you didn’t pay the whole cost of out pocket.  Keep in mind this is not tax advice but that is another wild card that could come into play.  Anytime you’re talking about laying out thousands of dollars it’s always worth evaluating whether or not the expense is tax deductible.

Training a Service Pet: Tax Deductible?

After being issued or buying your service animal the animal may need further training in order to help you.

Let’s say for instance, as is common right now, you have a dog that is given to a returning Iraq or Afghanistan military veteran who is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD).  Dogs have been proven to help people with these kinds of stress-related ailments and some doctors recommend getting a dog as a treatment.  In these cases, the dogs may receive some extra special training, to make sure it’s the best fit for a veteran struggling with PTSD.

Again, according to IRS guidelines, as long as the pet is medically necessary, you are generally speaking able to write off the expenses needed for their training.

Proper training is key to keeping you safe and making sure the service animal does their job well.

Maintaining the Service Animal: Tax Deductible?

When it comes to maintaining the service animal of course you are going to have costs for food and medical bills. 

The food expense is a little bit more questionable, just because you would have food expenses for any animal.  Nevertheless, the IRS appears to look kindly on these maintenance expenses for service animals just because it’s assumed that maybe you wouldn’t have a pet if you didn’t need it for medical purposes.

So there may even be some write-off here associated with ongoing costs of the animal, such as buying their food, water, grooming, and keeping them well.

Tax Techniques Matter!

The fact that you can, in the right circumstances, deduct some of these expenses is exciting for anyone that has recently been issued a service animal, or is considering purchasing one.  As noted these animals are very valuable and, as such, can get costly.  If you get a tax deduction it can lessen your true cost.

One little technique that we might mention too, that my boss Andy Frye mentioned, was that since the IRS has some limitations on deducting medical expenses (such as a service animal), you may want to investigate if you could use a Health Savings Account (HSA) to fund the service animal purchase so that you get a more direct deduction.  It’s beyond the scope of this blog post to discuss that and I actually don’t even know what he’s talking about, but just saying an HSA might be something worth mentioning to your tax professional.

Again, check with the IRS for specific qualifications and guidelines, restrictions apply and this blog is NOT tax advice.  Nevertheless, we hope this blog helped you!

If you like learning about taxes, and you like to be at least halfway entertained during the process, it could be time to check out Pronto Tax School’s Basic Income Tax Course.  Whether you’re looking to break in as a professional tax preparer, or just pick up the knowledge for your own and your family’s taxes, the course gets gret reviews and that’s not an accident.  As of this writing, we are proud to say that have helped over 8,000 people learn about taxes through our affordable, NOT boring online tax courses!

About the writer:

Jamie Waggoner is a Communication Major at University of North Carolina-Wilmington (UNCW).  Jamie’s favorite course at the moment is Integrated Marketing, which shows how smart companies use storytelling and word-of-mouth to develop authentic and compelling relationships with their customers and the general public.  Jamie did not realize when she accepted an internship at Pronto Tax School that she would become a tax expert, but hey, life is full of surprises and that’s a good thing.

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