The HAPPY Act—Tax Relief for Pet Owners
By Arlo the Hound with help from Honor Tarpenning
So often pet news is wrought with tales of gruesome dog fights, horrific puppy mills, and unfair breed-specific legislation; but it seems there may be some extremely promising news on the horizon.
You cannot turn on the computer, TV, or radio, or open a newspaper without hearing or reading about our country’s economic recession. If you keep your ear to the ground regarding pet news, you probably hear a different story every day about people giving up their pets for financial reasons. However, if House Representative Thaddeus McCotter has anything to say about it, pet owners will soon feel relief in the form of tax deductions for pet care expenses.
H.R. 3501, a concise and simple bill, also known as the Humanity and Pets Partnered through the Years (HAPPY) Act would amend the Internal Revenue code of 1986 to allow deductions of up to $3,500 annually for “qualified pet care expenses.” This bill defines “qualified pet care expenses” as “amounts paid in connection with providing care (including veterinary care) for a qualified pet other than any expense in connection with the acquisition of the qualified pet.”
So, if you want to deduct your payment of thousands of dollars for your new designer dog, you’re out of luck; but if that fancy dog gets sick, needs surgery, or requires a special kind of food, as long as the expenses don’t go over $3,500 a year, they would be tax deductable. Also deductable is the general care and upkeep of your not-so-fancy pooch. Under this bill, regular vet visits, teeth cleanings, food, and other necessities are completely tax deductable.
In order to qualify, a pet must be a “legally owned, domesticated, live animal.” If executed properly, this bill has the potential to encourage more dog owners to license their dogs. This, in turn would be a huge step towards ensuring that all pet dogs receive the necessary vaccinations. Imagine how this could change the future dog health! If every pet owner that wants the benefit of that hefty tax deduction must have their dog vaccinated against rabies in order to obtain a license and thus have a “legally owned” dog, SO many more dogs would be properly vaccinated. The vaccination would even be tax deductible! Furthermore, to be vaccinated, these dogs have to go see a vet. This could sidestep other potential problems for those dogs down the road as most vets are great about keeping up with their customers about when it’s time for check-ups and boosters.
Furthermore, the bill specifically states that this deduction does not apply to dogs “used for research or owned or utilized in conjunction with a trade or business.” So worry not animal rights advocates! No lab mice or scientific guinea pigs are covered by this bill. Researchers and businesses owning animals will just have to keep paying taxes on the money they spend on the care of those animals. For you pet owners and animal lovers out there though, there may just be a little sunlight peaking out over the economic horizon.