The answer is YES! You might be pleased to know that deducting the veterinary expenses of a service animal is a completely legal tax deduction. A lot of people overlook this little tax tip, because they automatically assume that veterinary expenses would never be allowable as a tax deduction.
Veterinary care, when it relates to the care of animals trained to assist persons who are visually-impaired, hearing-impaired, or disabled, is a tax deduction on Schedule A. And that's not all... you can also deduct maintenance costs for the animal, such as pet food, grooming.
Example: Jim is a Gulf War Veteran. JIm is recovering from severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Jim's physician recommends that he obtain a service dog to help aid him with his recovery. The doctor gives Jim a written physician’s statement explaining the recommendation. With the help of a Veteran’s support group, Jim obtains a trained service dog in 2015. The dog’s veterinary costs are deductible medical expenses on Jim's individual tax return.
It's always a good idea to retain proof of the disability or condition, and a short statement from your doctor is a great way to make sure that your deduction is protected in the case of an audit. And always, always, keep all your receipts! My suggestion: just create a little folder or shoebox and put all your service pet's related costs in there. As the bills add up, so will your tax deduction.
Author: Christy Pinheiro, EA ABA
Enrolled Agent, Accredited Business Accountant