Create a U.S. Pet Tax Credit to reduce tax bills

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U.S. pet-owning taxpayers should be able to receive a Pet Tax Credit to reduce their bills. Having a pet requires time, love, and money but also does so much good for our society.

The number of pets, namely dogs and cats, being rescued and adopted is quickly rising. With the additional furry family member, comes a new set of responsibilities including daily expenses like food, medical bills, medicine, walks, pet-sitting, and a loving, healthy commitment. Individuals, married couples and partners generously and sincerely take on the role of caregiver to these wonderful additions to the household as if they are their own children. According to the American Pet Products Association, pet industry spending is steadily rising each year and is at an all-time high.

According to research published in Scientific Reports, owning a dog is linked to living a longer life. Researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden focused on more than 3.4 million dog-owners for over a decade. They found owners had a lower risk of death due to cardiovascular disease and other causes than those who don’t own dogs. The study also found people who lived alone with a dog had a significantly reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease and other causes than non-owners. Other studies show growing up with a dog can decrease allergies and the potential for asthma developing in children.

Additionally, there are millions of animals across the country that need to be rescued or risk being euthanized or dying from neglect. According to Statistic Brain Research Institute, well over half of dogs and cats in shelters are euthanized. The firm also found that it costs taxpayers $2 billion annually to round up, house, kill and dispose of homeless animals. Just like a charitable contribution, the act of saving and raising a pet is simply a good deed, that many times, is unrewarded. According to Mintel, in 2016, 75% of Americans in their 30s have dogs while 51% have cats. Many Millennials who aren't ready or can't afford to have babies choose to start their families with a beloved dog or cat. For so many single people, their dog or cat is their only immediate family.

Finally, companion animals help induce a sense of community. As a dog-mother, I can't even count how many neighbors and strangers I have had conversations with just because of our beautiful furry son Teddy. There is an understanding many times between owners and an instant connection that sometimes evolves into friendships or just community members helping each other and saying "hello."

When it comes to figuring out what the tax credit should be, I believe it comes down to the numbers and proof of care. How many pets do you have? How much do you spend annually and how much time do you give to your pets for a walk or playtime instead of going out, working or just sitting on the couch. And it's important to show proof of adequate health care with vet bills/receipts, etc. My husband and I spend at least several thousand dollars a year on food, vet checkups, Heartgard, Frontline, shots, the occasional need for dog walkers, and our walking times jointly can add up to 60 minutes to 80 min a day. Child tax credits can be $1,000 per dependent. I say for these furry dependents, we seriously consider a minimum tax credit of $500 per pet.