Woman with service dog

All You Need to Know about Service Dogs and Taxes

February 2020 Dogs, Service Dogs

If you have a physical or mental impairment or disability that requires the assistance of a service dog, any expenses associated with your dog's care may be deductible on your tax return. Just like a wheelchair or any other medical device, service dogs are viewed as a necessary medical aid for those with disabilities. As such, their care is considered to be part of your medical expenses, and are therefore tax deductible. If you have a service dog, here's what you need to know about these tax deductions.

What Expenses Qualify?

Because your dog is an essential part of living with your disability, any expenses associated with their care can be deducted on your tax return. This includes but is not limited to the following types of expenses:

  • Dog food
  • Grooming
  • Veterinary care
  • Licensing fees
  • Cost of training
  • Equipment (harnesses, vests, leashes, etc.)
  • Cost of purchasing the service dog

Just as the upkeep of a medical device would be a deduction on your tax return, so too are the costs of caring for your service dog deductible as a medical expense.

How to Claim Your Deduction

As we mentioned, the care of your service dog would fall under the category of medical expenses when you're deducting them on your taxes. However, not everyone can deduct their medical expenses. Your total expenses from the year must exceed 10% of your adjusted gross income. (This is the threshold for 2019, and may change for future years.)

If your total medical expenses exceed this threshold, you can deduct any medical expenses over the threshold amount on your return, including those costs mentioned above. To do so, you will need to itemize your expenses and provide proof of those costs alongside your tax return; that means keeping copies of any receipts associated with your service dog's care.

Assuming you qualify to deduct medical expenses, and you have all of the supporting documentation to itemize those deductions, you can claim your deductions using IRS Form 1040 and attaching Schedule A. However, you should really consider enlisting the aid of a tax professional if you're hoping to claim this deduction, as the information above is just a general guideline, and claiming this deduction is complicated.

1040 and Schedule A tax forms

Who Can Claim Service Dog Expenses?

In addition to meeting the criteria mentioned above, you must be able to provide documentation proving your disability, as well as your reliance on a service dog to live with your disability. Typically, a letter from a medical professional providing care for your disability is sufficient evidence for the IRS. Your dog must also be a trained, certified, and registered service dog to qualify as a medical aid, so if you haven't looked into a service dog registry yet, you should do so; this also means that ESAs don't qualify, as they aren't trained to perform a specific task.

If you want to register your dog as a service animal, we offer the best service dog registry available online. Register your dog through the National Service Animal Registry today and contact a tax professional if you have any questions regarding deducting your service dog's care on your tax return.