Tax tips for dog owners – HundeNachrichten

Money back for your best friend

Düsseldorf. For many people, it is a topic they like to put off: the tax return. This year, you have until September 2nd to submit your return for the previous year. What many people don't know is that the expenses for privately kept dogs can also be claimed as a tax deduction under certain circumstances.

When it comes to tax returns, it makes a significant difference whether I keep an animal privately or whether it is, for example, a service or assistance dog. “If the animal is used for professional purposes, almost all of the costs incurred in keeping it are tax deductible. For self-employed people, these are operating costs; for employees, they are advertising costs,” explains lawyer Sabina Büttner, Head of Tax and Social Affairs at the North Rhine-Westphalia Taxpayers' Association. “In private ownership, however, the costs of care, feeding or visits to the vet are generally not deductible. However, there are a few exceptions.”

Claim household-related services
These exceptions mainly concern so-called household-related services. These include costs for a dog trainer, groomer or pet sitter. “The decisive factor is that the person comes to my home and provides their service there. Then I can deduct 20 percent of the costs and a maximum of 4,000 euros per year,” says the expert.

The Federal Finance Court (BFH) In 2017, the court ruled that a dog walking service also counts as a household-related service if the pet sitter picks up the dog at the front door, leaves the property and then brings the four-legged friend back. A visit to the vet, on the other hand, does not count as a household-related service and cannot be deducted accordingly.

“Receipts are also important in order to be able to prove the costs in the tax return. This means that the service provider must have registered a business and invoices must have been created in which travel and labor costs are broken down. The tax office generally does not accept cash payments, even in conjunction with a receipt,” says Büttner.

Pet owner liability insurance limited deductible
The costs for separate dog liability insurance can theoretically be declared as precautionary expenses in the tax return. “The allowance for precautionary expenses is 1,900 euros for employees, civil servants and pensioners and 2,800 euros for freelancers, self-employed people and pensioners who do not receive a subsidy for health insurance,” summarizes the tax expert. These maximum amounts are usually already reached through the contributions to other private insurances such as your own health insurance or private liability insurance. Savings are therefore only possible here if the allowance has not yet been exhausted.

Dog tax is not deductible
The purchase costs and the dog tax are not tax deductible. However, there may be discounts for pet owners outside of the tax return. The respective municipalities regulate this in their statutes. “Hunting dogs, assistance dogs, rescue dogs and shepherd dogs are generally exempt. Discounts are usually available for police dogs, therapy dogs and shelter dogs,” says Büttner. Recipients of state benefits such as unemployment benefit or citizen's allowance can also apply for a reduction in dog tax.

Special features of assistance dogs
If the dog is used professionally, almost all expenses for the animal are tax deductible. However, there is a special case for assistance dogs and guide dogs for the disabled, explains Büttner: “The purchase and training costs of an assistance dog are very high. Statutory health insurance companies usually cover the costs of a guide dog for the blind, but often not the costs of other assistance dogs. If the purchase of an assistance dog was prescribed in advance by a doctor, all expenses can be deducted from taxes as extraordinary expenses. However, if there is a disability, the costs of an assistance dog are often covered by the disability allowance.”

Anyone who is generally unsure, or in such special cases, whether and how tax savings are possible when keeping their own animals can also turn to tax assistance associations or tax consultants.

Pet Supplies Industry Association (IVH) e. V.