From the Naples Daily News:
Pets could soon pay for themselves if a bill that allows owners to deduct the cost of caring for their animal’s passes.
If approved, the Humanity and Pets Partnered Through the Years (HAPPY) Act would amend the Internal Revenue Code to allow a tax deduction of up to $3,500 per year for pet care expenses, including veterinary care, according the House Resolution 3501.
“I think it’s great,” said Stacey Huber a veterinarian at Animal Oasis Veterinary Hospital.
Huber, who learned about the bill through a reporter, said veterinary care has gotten expensive for people and, many times, pet insurance doesn’t cover some of the expenses.
If approved, Huber said this tax deduction could help pet owners who have pets that have illnesses and diseases and need long-term treatment.
The tax deduction could be nearly as much as a deduction for a child.
Last year, a taxpayer could claim a qualified child, who is 19 or under 24 and a full-time student, as a dependant for $3,500. In 2009, the deduction will climb to $3,650, according to IRS spokesman Mike Dobzinski of Plantation.
“I don’t think most Americans spend as much on pet care as on child care,” Huber said.
As people are trimming their expenses now, Huber said the bill could allow people to do preventative care for their pets more often, such as dental cleaning or blood work.
A typical flea prevention and heartworm medication supply for a year costs about $200.
Pet owners would be allowed to deduct all their pet care expenses for all of their qualified pets, according to the bill. Qualified pets would have to be legally owned, domesticated and alive, according to the bill. Exceptions include any animal used for research or owned or used in conjunction with a trade or business, according to the bill.
U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, R-Mich, introduced the bill on July 31. It was referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.
McCotter could not be reached for comment. Neither could Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fort Myers or Rep Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami.
Pet owners know how expensive medical care can be.
Naples resident Nancy White supports the bill because it could possibly offset costs for her domestic American shorthaired 16-year-old cat named Happy.
“I think it’s a good idea, as long as people don’t abuse it,” White, 63 said.
On average, if Happy doesn’t get sick, White spends about $300 a year for his check-ups. But, when he does get sick, the bills increase.
“In today’s economy, I think that people have to make a choice between their pet and themselves,” she said.
After hearing about the bill, several pet owners at the Rover Run Dog Park at Veteran’s Park on Immokalee Road said they would support it.
“It would be nice,” Michaela Henning, 32, said.
The East Naples resident said she doesn’t know if she spends $3,500 a year on her 14-month-old Jack Russell terrier named Vito but she said expenses quickly add up. Henning estimated spending about $2,000 a year on food and veterinary expenses.
Henning added that instead of a tax deduction, she would prefer to have another dog park in Collier County.
Marc Carestia, 22, said a tax deduction could be a good thing but he could see it being abused.
The East Naples resident has three dogs, an 11-month-old Boston Terrier named Skittles; a 3-year-old Catahoula mix named Candy and Rocko, a 2 1/2 year old Doberman mix. He estimated spending an average of $1,500 to $2,000 on his pets, if they remain healthy without needing additional medical visits.
Alan Grosshart, a veterinarian at Petsmart in Naples, said he has seen many pets being left behind and euthanized because of the current economy and would support the bill if it could prevent that from happening.
“What I would like to see is more affordable pet insurance for pets,” Grosshart said.