Americans spent over $56 billion on their pets last year, but they won't be seeing many benefits from their spending -- at least, not in their tax returns. Despite lobbying from pet-owners and even some lawmakers, pet dependents aren't deductible, no matter how much a part of the family they might be. Foster pets and assistance animals (from dogs to horses to monkeys), however, do make their humans eligible for some benefits. And for those thinking of adopting a pet from a shelter? Don't worry about adoption donation fees. They're deductible.
Thanks to a landmark 2011 U.S. Tax Court decision, Van Dusen v. Commissioner, animal rescues and their volunteers may claim the expenses of the pets' care when they file their returns. That spending adds up: according to the ASPCA, caring for the average small dog costs an American owner more than $1,000 per year; according to the Wall Street Journal, Humane Society volunteers across the country spend between $2,000 and $15,000 out of pocket to care for needy pets.