As you prepare your taxes when tax season comes around, you may be wondering what are approved deductions you can claim. Deductions are certain expenses that reduce the amount of your income the government can tax. One common type of deduction is medical expenses, and included in this category are guide dogs and other service animals, such as those registered by USA Service Dogs. If you have a service dog, here is everything you need to know to write off your canine companion on your tax forms.

What the IRS Says About Service Dogs

The IRS allows the costs of the following activities to be included as medical expenses:

  • Buying: how much you paid to receive your dog
  • Training: how much you spent training your dog and getting him or her certified
  • Maintaining: how much you pay in order to care for your dog on a daily basis, such as money spent on food, veterinary care, and grooming

If the cost is related to your dog’s job, performance, or overall health, then it is eligible to be tax deductible. These guidelines also apply to all certified service animals, not just canines.

Who Qualifies for Claiming a Service Dog

The IRS defines those who are able to use a service animal as people who are visually impaired, hearing disabled, or physically disabled in any other way. The person can be yourself, your spouse, or a dependent. Although it’s not expressly written in the IRS’s publication, the organization has clarified that mental disabilities qualify as well. This means that if you suffer from PTSD, anxiety, depression, or other psychiatric or emotional issues, you can claim your four-legged family member as a tax deduction, too.

However, you will have to prove that your dog is used for mental health medical care and that you wouldn’t have had to pay for the expenses you’re claiming were it not for your mental illness. The care must be for preventing or alleviating your mental illness and not related to your general health or anything else. The more objective factors you can use to establish your case, the better. Some include a diagnosis from a doctor, professional recommendation of treatment, and evidence of the effectiveness of the treatment.

When You Can Claim Deductions

It’s also important to know that for non-reimbursed medical fees of all kinds, you can’t claim them until they are greater than 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income. You can calculate your adjusted gross income by subtracting your above-the-line deductions from your gross income. The rest of your deductions, including the ones for your service dog, are taken from your adjusted gross income.

If you didn’t know your furry friend was tax deductible, you can still try to claim the deductions even if the time for tax submissions is already over. File the IRS Form 1040X to change your tax return. You can do this for up to the past three years. Any time earlier than that is not eligible to be amended.

The Benefits of Claiming Your Service Dog

Your loving dog already assists you in more ways than anyone but you can understand. From physical to mental to emotional support, your dog is always there to help, guide, and comfort you. By claiming him or her on your taxes, you can receive another benefit: saving money. Those savings can help you pay for other medical expenses that come out of your pocket. You can put the money back into caring for your dog, or you can spend it on some time away together to rejuvenate your health. Whatever you decide to do, you’ll have more allowance to care for the things you need and the people and animals you love.