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Service Dog Registration Of America

Is My Service Dog a Tax Write Off?

2019-12-31

In short, yes a service dog is a tax write off. Service dogs are working animals for people with disabilities. As a result, their owners won't be penalized with taxes for using their animal as a medical device.  

Below are the answers to some of the commonly asked questions about taxation and service dogs. 

Why Is It a Write Off? 

Service dogs are not pets. An individual service animal is trained specifically to help someone who is disabled perform tasks they otherwise would not be able to do.  

Common examples of work service animals do are: 

- Guiding blind people through their daily lives
- Pulling a wheelchair through the day
- Protecting a person who is having a seizure 

However, that is not all services dogs can do. These dogs are also able to remind those with illnesses to take their prescribed medication. They can calm down a person who is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder if they have a flashback or reaction to a traumatic event.  

As a result of their work, these animals are essentially medical devices. Many personal medical devices like wheelchairs and hearing aids are exempt from taxation in the United States. Service dogs even have strict rules surrounding their usage, care, and training in the same way traditional medical devices do. The rules around service dogs are enforced in America by the Americans with Disabilities Act, often known simply as the ADA.

Per the ADA, any service dog is part of the medical expenses incurred by a disabled person and their family because of their state of health. As a result, the IRS allows owners of all ADA compliant services animals to take a full set of deductions when it comes to the cost of their dog. 

What Expenses Can An Individual Deduct From Their Taxes? 

An owner is allowed to deduct all the expenses that come with purchasing a service dog from their taxes in the year they purchase their dog. But the limit to deductions does not stop there. All the expenses associated with caring for a service dog should be considered tax-free as well. 

This includes but is not limited to: 

- Writing off any taxes incurred on the dog's vet visits
- Emergency or general bills
- The dog's medical expenses, like monthly shots 

Additionally, the dog's owner is not liable for the taxes of the animal's food or any training or retraining that the service animal requires while it serves them.

If an owner requires any equipment, like tools or accessories to help the dog do its job those are eligible for a write off as well. Harnesses, tags, and garments that signify an animal is a service dog are all eligible.  

Having those items is not a requirement anywhere in the ADA's legislation regarding service animals. Ultimately, the ADA and IRS worked together to create this protection for service animal owners so that they can use their service animal however helps them the most. 

Why Is It Necessary To Write A Dog's Expenses Off? 

All in all, owning a service dog can be an expensive enterprise. This benefit from the IRS and ADA together allows disabled individuals to purchase the items that best suit them at a lesser cost. 

The initial cost associated with purchasing a service dog is very high. In America in 2019, the cost of a service dog ranged between $15,000 and $30,000 after training. The range of costs is so wide because the price of an animal will vary depending on location, and the type of training a dog needs. This variance in price would be higher if individuals were taxed for the purchase of their medical device. 

Also, at this time in America, no major insurance including Medicaid covers the cost of a service animal. As a result, the tax write off combats some of the costs that these animals incur. This is especially helpful for low-income individuals who suffer from disabilities. The amount of tax they pay can have a direct impact on their quality of life. 

Are Those With Service Animals Afforded Any Other Financial Protections or Benefits? 

There are no other major financial benefits service animals receive on a national level at this time. Although each state has programs that service dog owners can engage in. 

When it comes to costs associated with service animals it should be noted those with disabilities cannot be charged any fees that other patrons without animals are not charged. Also, if a business requires a deposit or fee to be paid by traditional pet owners at their place of business, then that business by law has to waive the charge for patrons who have service animals.

The only time an owner of a service animal can be charged any fees for their animal is if their dog were to cause damage to the business they visited. Although, this charge can only be imposed if a traditional pet owner would be given the same bill. Essentially, while no more major financial assistance is given in the public sphere on a national level, the ADA's regulations ensure no additional financial burden is placed on service animal owners by private businesses.  

Conclusion 

Service dogs are a legally protected class of animals in America. These dogs do not serve as pets, but are more like medical devices or aids, and are taxed as such. 

As a result of the collaboration between the ADA and the IRS, a service animal and the expenses associated with owning that animal can be written off on taxes. The tax write off covers everything associated with owning the animals. 

Also, as a result of the ADA no animal must distinguish their work as a service animal through the use of a vest, though it is permitted to write off one if an owner chooses to employ one. 

If you are considering a service dog for your disability, consider registering your animal to receive information on any legal changes impacting your rights.