If you work for a state or local police department or federal agency as a K9 handler, your line of work requires you to take your canine partner home with you every day. As a result, you are never really off the clock since you must always take care of the dog. This type of employment situation allows K9 handlers to take advantage of many tax deductions for job-related expenses.
Itemizing and Reimbursements
The first thing all K9 handlers must be aware of before claiming a deduction for K9 expenses is that the IRS requires you to itemize deductions on Schedule A. All of your job-related costs are part of your miscellaneous expenses, the total of which is subject to the 2-percent Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) limitation. This means that if you incur annual expenses of $10,000 in a year and your AGI is $100,000, you must reduce the deduction by $2,000. Moreover, you cannot include an expense in your deductions for which your employer reimburses you. If you choose to claim the standard deduction instead, there is no other way to claim additional deductions for your expenses.
Home K9 Equipment
Since it’s not feasible to leave your K9 companion at the office, you must take the dog home with you and care for it just as you would a family pet. However, it’s not your responsibility to pay for the necessary equipment you need in the home. For example, if you crate your K9 at night, you can deduct the cost of purchasing a reasonable dog cage. You may also find yourself purchasing leashes, collars and other accessories at your local pet store. You should keep the receipts for all of these purchases so you can easily include them in your deduction at the end of the year.
In most cases, your employer will reimburse you for the expenses you incur taking the dog to the veterinarian. If you fail to receive a reimbursement, you can include the entire cost of the vet bill in your job-related deduction. Moreover, if the veterinarian recommends purchasing special medications to treat an illness, you can include that expense in your deduction as well.
Grooming and Food
It is not unreasonable to want to keep your home free of dirt that dogs are notorious for bringing in from the outside, or to keep your rugs and furniture free of dog hair. Since your job duties require the dog to live with you at home, you can certainly claim a deduction for the periodic dog grooming and cleanings you pay for. Moreover, your K9 is likely to be a fairly large dog with an insatiable appetite. Therefore, you can also include the amount you pay to purchase dog food and treats.