Pet Owner? The HAPPY Act Might Bring you Tax Deductions
Could your Pet Bring you a Tax Deduction?
Who’s a good boy? Yeah, that’s him right there. My shelter dog, Murdock, A Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. And he’s about to become an even better boy should the recently introduced HAPPY Act gain traction and get passed.
What is the HAPPY ACT?
HAPPY is an acronym for The Humanity and Pets Partnered Through the Years Act. Also known as House of Representatives Bill 3501. The Happy Act was introduced by Representative Thaddeus McCotter, a Republican from my home state of Michigan.
Should the HAPPY Act pass in its present form, it would allow pet owners to deducted the cost of food, veterinary care, and other pet related expenses from their income taxes – up to $3,500 per year.
How Much Could the HAPPY Act Save you?
I had spent $700 this year on veterinary expenses for my dog Murdock and my cats – Bean and BA. This is probably more than a typical year for me as a lot of that expense was first visits after rescuing a dog from our local humane society and bringing him back to health. I estimate that I’ve spent $600 this year on food and medicine. My total cost of ownership was roughly $1,300 for my three pets.
Somehow Americans spend an average of $1,700 per year per pet. I managed to keep my expenses to just over $400 per pet (I do all grooming at home). I would personally be able to deduct about $1,300 from my taxes. To figure out how much you can personally save, you’ll have to do the math for your tax bracket.
What Does the HAPPY Act Cover?
All food, vet, and upkeep expenses.
What Does it Not Cover?
The cost to adopt or purchase a pet.
Pros of the HAPPY Act
- Added tax incentive could inspire those who have been on the fence about getting a first or additional pets to go out and get one. With the glut of animals at shelters these days any little bit of help to avoid euthanization is a plus.
- For the 60% of American households already with a pet, it is added incentive for those now realizing that being a good pet owner does result in work to try to see it through hard times versus giving the pet up to a shelter.
- Pets have been proven to contribute greatly to our happiness. Happiness leads to increased productivity. So in theory, more pet owners could potentially lead to an improved economy.
Cons of the Happy Act
- It would be an itemized deduction, meaning that, for the most part, it would apply to higher income taxpayers. Without doubt, lower and middle income taxpayers need the most help in maintaining their pets. So this bill is targeted towards the wrong crowd.
- If more people purchase an animal from breeders and animal retailers, then realize they aren’t fit to be a pet owner, it could actually result in more animals ending up in shelters.
My HAPPY Act Amendment
Having been a volunteer dog walker at a local humane society, I know the disproportionate number of animals taken in versus those actually adopted out. Part of me holds a healthy dose of resentment towards puppy mill style retailers and even legit breeders. Every time someone purchases from one of these outlets, that is one less animal that will be adopted from a shelter. And believe me, there’s enough shelter animals to go around.
For this bill to be best case scenario, I would add the amendment that the animal must be or have been adopted from a shelter. These are the animals that need the most help and there should be more incentive to adopt them than their bred counterparts. It would also have the effect of slowing down breeding operations, which would reduce the overall number of animals, and the resulting number of animals that get euthanized.
Besides the owner who buys Muffy, the purebred championship bloodline poodle, does not need any additional tax breaks.
Happy Act Discussion:
- Are you in favor of the passage of the HAPPY Act?
- What amendments, if any, would you add to the bill?
- Would the passage of this bill encourage you to adopt a first or additional pets?