We’ve been asked several times if you can deduct the cost of owning a Service Dog from your taxes. The answer is: yes! You can include in medical expenses the costs of buying, training, and maintaining a guide dog or other service animal to assist a visually impaired or hearing disabled person, psychiatric or other physical disabilities.
In general, you may deduct the cost of owning a Service Dog from your taxes. This includes any costs, such as food, grooming, and veterinary care, incurred in maintaining the health and vitality your Service Dog so that it may perform its duties. While the IRS website states you can deduct the costs for Service Dogs that help with physical disabilities, Psychiatric Service Dogs which are specifically trained to complete tasks that assist with mental health disabilities are also covered (with several addendums). However as with any deduction, you should be well prepared to back up your claim. For more information, please view this on the IRS.gov website.
Our mantra is document, document, document. We highly suggest keeping a paper notebook or online blog as a log or record of your training dates and accomplishments. It will not only serve to help you during the training process but will also serve as a useful paper trail for your Service or Assistance Dog.
Many medical expenses are tax deductible. Any expense that involves prevention, diagnosis, or medical treatment of a physical or mental illness is deductible. Any expense that involves treatment for anything cosmetic is not.
How much of the expenses can you deduct?
Generally, you can deduct on Schedule A (Form 1040) only the amount of your medical and dental expenses that is more than 10% of your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI). But if either you or your spouse was born before January 2, 1949, you can deduct the amount of your medical and dental expenses that is more than 7.5% of your AGI.
Example: You are unmarried and were born after January 2, 1949, and your AGI is $40,000, 10% of which is $4,000. You paid medical expenses of $2,500. You cannot deduct any of your medical expenses because they are not more than 10% of your AGI.
Please note: We aren’t your accountant or financial advisor, so of course if you have questions you should consult with a tax professional. If you are ever audited, you may be asked to provide proof that your animal is a Service Dog that qualifies under the ADA. If you train your own animal, the best way to do this is by keeping a record of your training either in some kind of a paper log or online web blog — or a video tape of your Service Dog’s completion of the Minimum Training Standards for Service and Assistance Dogs and a Public Access Test like the one available at Assistance Dogs International.