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Are Emotional Support Dogs Tax Deductible?

October 25th, 2017
Are Emotional Support Dogs Tax Deductible?

An Emotional support animal (ESA) is any domesticated animal that offers support and comfort to their owner or handler who is going through emotional ups and downs due to various mental/emotional disabilities. Unlike service animals, they are not mandated to carry out specific tasks for a disabled person and thus do not require any special training. These animals are ideal for providing emotional stability and unconditional love. Emotional support dogs can help alleviate symptoms of various conditions including:

  1. Learning disorders
  2. Anxiety
  3. Fears
  4. Depression
  5. Substance abuse (drug, alcohol, and other items)
  6. Panic disorder
  7. Tic disorders
  8. Gender identity crisis
  9. Mental retardation
  10. Suicidal tendencies
  11. Motor skills disorder
  12. Split Personality Disorder
  13. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Are Emotional Support Dogs Tax Deductible?

dollarEmotional Support dogs can be expensive –with veterinary bills and pet food costs; not to mention the cost of buying and training a dog to be an emotional support animal in the first place. ESA expenses are primarily personal expenses that are not tax deductible. However, there are some cases where your ESA might be able to save you some bucks.

1. Moving your ESA dog

If you move your ESA dog during the tax year, it may be possible for you to deduct your moving expenses – including those especially related to moving your dog. For instance, if moving your dog calls for special expenses, those expenses are not treated any differently than any of your expenses. Making special arrangements to transfer Fluffy from your old place to new one? Make sure to save the receipts so you can save some bucks.

2. Charitable donations to dog rescues/shelters

Contrary to popular belief, adopting an emotional support dog from a registered non-profit shelter would not be deductible. However, any contributions made in surplus to the standard adoption fees surely is deductible. As per the law, only those donations made where no services or goods are exchanged can be deducted. If you decide to make donations to your favorite dog charity make sure to get a letter of receipt in return that states no goods or services were received in return.

3. Physical or Mental Disability

The cost of buying and training therapy and service dogs is deemed deductible by the law. As an emotional support animal owner/handler, if you can prove the animal is primarily used for medical reasons in order to alleviate a mental illness or disability and that you as a taxpayer would not have paid the expenses but for the illness or disease, your emotional support dog may be able to fetch tax deductibility for you.

One way to prove your emotional disability to the higher authorities is through an ESA letter. This letter confirms that you indeed have an emotional disability or illness and that an emotional support dog can help you cope with the symptoms and also bring you therapeutic benefits. It also states that you are currently being treated by a doctor (one who prescribed to you the ESA), and that doctor believes that an ESA dog will be an effective addition to the treatment plan. Following are some of the many examples of different symptoms related to emotional/mental disabilities.

  1. Feelings of stress or anxiety that last for more than a few days
  2. Development of irrational fears related to a pretty normal life situation or issue
  3. Having a hard time maintaining relationships with people.
  4. Difficulty or inability in interacting with people in public or private settings