For those animal lovers who spend so much money on their pets and hope to recoup some of that cash spent when tax season arrives, this is the cold, hard reality: For the most part, you can’t.
The Internal Revenue Service does not allow people to claim pets as dependents on their taxes, despite food and vet bills that can pile up.
However, there are certain instances in which pets can help provide a tax break.
Here are five such ways, according to MarketWatch.
1. Your pet makes money.
If for some reason your pet is famous and in advertisements in print, online or on TV, they might be making enough money to be taxable income for owners. If that’s case, then owners could qualify for deductions.
2. A pet is a service animal.
People with physical disabilities or mental health conditions who need guide dogs for vision or hearing impairments qualify for tax deductions to help offset cost of buying the animal food, paying vet bills and other fees.
3. Military members who are moving.
Members of the military can receive tax credits for being required to move their household, and pets can be considered a part of that household.
4. When pets are business animals.
Pets who are hired to work, such as security dogs at a place of business or cats who help control rodents at an office, in limited cases, can be used as tax breaks. The key is to maintain good records of the hours those pets are used for work.
5. When a pet is fostered for an accredited organization.
Fostering a pet for an IRS-qualified nonprofit organization can qualify people for deduction of expenses such as food, medicine, travel and supply costs. The catch is that the shelter or rescue a person fosters a pet for has to be an approved organization by the IRS. People can’t deduct expenses for an animal taken off the streets.
This story was first published in 2020. It has since been updated.