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Tax Break for Pets
Rep. McCotter introduces HAPPY to encourage responsible pet care.

Earlier this month, Michigan Congressman Thaddeus McCotter introduced HR3501, a bill more commonly referred to as HAPPY, the Humanity and Pets Partnered Through the Years Act. The new bill proposes a change to U.S. Tax Code that would allow pet care up to $3,500 to be tax deductable.

Qualifying expenses include veterinary care, but won’t include the cost to acquire a new pet. The deduction is exclusive to legally owned, domestic animals. Animals used for research or owned in conjunction with a business do not qualify.

HAPPY was drafted to encourage responsible pet care and reduce the abandonment of pets by people struggling as a result of the economic downturn. The bill also mentions that 63 percent of U.S. households include a pet and that the human-animal bond has been shown to have positive effects upon people’s emotional and physical well being.

I don’t currently itemize my taxes, but if I could deduct pet care, it might become worth it for me to change the way I file. I’m not convinced that HAPPY will help reduce the number of abandoned dogs, but I do think it has the potential to encourage responsible pet care. It also legitimizes animals as a member of the family since we can currently deduct for human health care and education. However, if HAPPY passes, I would hope that no one would buy a pet because of the potential tax benefit (which isn't much compared to the cost of caring for an animal).

HAPPY is curently waiting to be reviewed by the House Committee on Ways and Means, so it will be interesting to see the outcome, although I'm not particularly optimistic it will pass. If you’re interested in supporting HAPPY, a petition has been set up on the Care 2 Petition Site. To view text from the actual bill, visit the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council's website.

What do you think about tax deductable pet care?

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JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.
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