Can I Claim My Emotional Support Dog on My Taxes? Everything You Need to Know

Emotional support dogs are exceptional companion animals that can help people with mental health disorders find relief. They can treat conditions like anxiety but also help serious conditions like panic attack disorders as well. Plus, emotional support dogs are allowed to remain in non-pet-friendly housing thanks to their inclusion in the Fair Housing Act (FHA). If emotional support dogs (ESDs) are considered support for a disability, you might be wondering: can I claim my emotional support dog on my taxes?

The short answer is no, but the full answer is a bit more complicated than that. Thankfully, we’re here to help. Read on to learn more about ESAs and whether or not you can write them off on your taxes.

What Is an Emotional Support Dog?

An emotional support dog is a companion dog that helps people with mental health disorders. They have protections under some laws that allow them to remain in otherwise non-pet-friendly housing, which makes them beneficial for people who live in apartments that don’t allow pets. Emotional support dogs get these protections from laws and guidelines outlined by the Fair Housing Act (FHA). This act protects ESDs in homes but they can still be evicted if they’re not well-behaved. For an emotional support dog to be legitimate, you need an emotional support animal letter to prove to landlords that you have a legitimate ESA for a mental health condition.

Who Is Eligible for an Emotional Support Dog?

Anyone who has a mental health disorder can be eligible for an emotional support dog. The requirements for adopting and registering an ESD are not as strict as the process for getting a service dog or therapy dog. For this reason, you don’t have to worry as much about meeting certain requirements by the state or federal government. That said, you do still have to be approved by a licensed mental health professional who can approve you based on the type of mental health disorder you have.

The most common conditions that qualify for an emotional support dog include:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • General anxiety disorder
  • Panic attack disorders
  • Excessive stress
  • Depression
  • Loneliness
  • Insomnia
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Agoraphobia
  • ADHD
  • Learning disabilities

Ultimately, if it’s a mental health disorder that can be aided with the assistance of emotional support, you can be eligible for an emotional support animal.

Can Emotional Support Dogs Be Claimed on Taxes?

Unfortunately, no, emotional support dogs can’t be claimed on your taxes. While they are similar to service dogs and may be part of your treatment program, they’re considered pets under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) because they’re not mentioned in the act. There are also no laws protecting ESDs in the same way that service dogs are protected. For this reason, they’re treated like pets for tax purposes.

That said, some states might be more open to allowing you to deduct emotional support dogs than others. You’ll have to check your state’s tax code to see if you qualify for any deductions; we recommend speaking with a reputable tax accountant or attorney to see if the state you live in has any deductions for you.

To improve your chances of writing an ESD on your taxes it’s essential to get an ESA letter. You can also train your emotional support animal to become a service animal if you have a small horse or a dog. Training can cost upwards of 30,000 dollars, so with the right approval, it’s possible to write off an ESA.

How to Get an ESA Letter

When you want to try and claim your ESA on your taxes you’ll always need an emotional support animal letter. These are letters written by a licensed mental health professional and they prove that you have a condition that the emotional support animal is treating. When it comes to obtaining these letters, the process is the same in every state and you can even do so online by visiting our emotional support animal registration page.

Follow the steps below to get started.

  1. Enter some information about yourself.
  2. Provide details about the pet you want to have as an emotional support animal.
  3. Schedule a call with a licensed mental health professional.
  4. Determine if you’re approved for an ESA.
  5. Wait for your ESA letter to arrive.

It’s also possible to apply for an ESA letter with your current therapist if you prefer to go that route. This can be done by going to regular sessions with them and talking about whether or not an ESA letter is right for you. This may take a few visits, so don’t expect to get a letter the first time you visit.

You will also have to pay any necessary fees associated with an emotional support animal.

How Much Does an Emotional Support Animal Cost?

An emotional support animal costs around $99 to register if you go through the process online. If you plan on working with an in-person therapist, the cost will vary based on their rate and whether or not you have insurance. While the cost of an ESA letter is a big factor, you also have to factor in how much it costs to care for an ESA. For example, dogs can cost around $1,000 to $2,000 per year to care for if you include food and trips to the vet. Cats cost a similar amount, but you can save some money by going the emotional support fish route.

Can Service Dogs Be Claimed on Taxes?

According to the IRS and Americans with Disabilities Act, yes, you can claim a service dog on your taxes. The IRS has information on its website that can help you claim your service dog. Service dogs are accepted by the IRS because they’re considered a necessary treatment for a mental or physical disability. This means that they’re classified as other life-saving medications like insulin and other medications. Still, it might not always make sense to claim a service dog if you can write off more with your standard deduction.

That said, you can deduct the following from your income when you have a service dog:

  • Grooming requirements
  • Medical bills for the dog
  • Training costs
  • Food
  • Boarding the animal
  • Harnesses, leashes, and other dog supplies

Depending on your situation there may be more things you can write off. Always consult with an attorney to learn more about what you can and can’t write off your taxes with a service dog.

How You Can Prove that Your Pet Is a Service Animal for Tax Deduction?

You need to prove to the IRS that your pet is a service animal if you want to write them off on your taxes. All you usually need is written documentation that states that your service dog is helping you treat a disability that you wouldn’t be able to manage properly without them.

The first thing you need to prove is that you have a medical condition that qualifies for a service dog. This has to come from a physician who diagnoses you with a specific condition. For example, someone who is blind can visit a physician and be approved for a guide dog, which is a type of service animal that’s tax deductible. You also need to have your physician or therapist include how the service dog helps with your condition. Ultimately, there needs to be a link between your condition and the animal that provides treatment.

The next thing you need to have is evidence that treatment with a service dog improves your condition. You’ll want records that indicate your condition has improved since you’ve adopted a service dog. It’s also possible that you’ll need medical records from a therapist or physician to prove this. Finally, the IRS is more forgiving if you develop a condition and then adopt the animal. If you’ve had the animal your whole life and then developed a condition, there’s less of a chance that they will get approved.

How Can You Write Off a Service Dog on Your Taxes?

To write off a service dog on your taxes you have to fill out a specific form, which is known as a 1040 form. This form will have to be filled out under Schedule A deductions and labeled as a medical expense. Always consult with an accountant to determine if writing a service dog off is right for you. A good rule of thumb to follow is that you can write off medical expenses that are greater than 7.5% of your adjusted gross income (AGI).

Can Therapy Dogs Be Claimed on Taxes?

Yes, therapy dogs can be claimed on taxes. You must claim them as a business expense. This means that they must be located in or be an important function of your business. Then, you can write off their expenses, including grooming, food, trips to the vet, and other care expenses.

That said, you have to be careful when claiming a therapy dog to avoid tax implications if you file incorrectly or do something wrong. Before you go down this route, make sure you consult with a tax attorney or accountant before you attempt to write off a therapy dog.

The good news is that if you have an ESA that you love to have around your office or in a business location like a funeral home, you can train them to become a therapy dog to leverage the tax benefits. Again, make sure you discuss this with a tax professional before you consider going down this route.

Experience Tax Savings Today

You can’t write an emotional support animal off on your taxes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get creative. If you have a disability and want to train your dog to become a service dog, that’s something you can write off on your taxes if it comes out to more than 7.5% of your AGI. You’ll have to have a legitimate disability that’s evaluated by a therapist, but it’s worth a try if you think you need a service dog. You can also convert your emotional support dog into a therapy dog if they serve a purpose at your business.

That said, always consult with an accountant and check the IRS’s website for free information regarding taxes and your emotional support animal. Some situations and states may have favorable tax situations for emotional support animals, so keep this in mind.