Most knowledgeable people understand that the American system of income taxation, both federal and state, is only secondarily concerned with raising revenue. Compared to all revenue raised by taxation, income taxes account for only a small percentage. Indeed estimates are that at least forty-percent of Americans pay no income tax at all. The fundamental purpose of income taxes is to stimulate certain activities and discourage others.
For example, the federal tax code long encouraged oil and gas exploration by allowing “depletion allowances,” a form depreciation deductions. Business is helped through write-offs for equipment purchase and depreciation; even by the deductibility of many entertainment expenses. Charitable giving – contributions to ISAR, for example – is fostered by tax deductibility. Home ownership is assisted greatly by deductions for real estate taxes and mortgage interest. Other activities, not favored by the government, are discouraged through taxation. Gambling losses, for example, are not tax deductible, though winnings are. Taxes on tobacco and gasoline are high. In other words, much of the federal tax code is driven by social policy.
In the states, the same is true. Tax codes encourage and reward certain activities with tax breaks, and discourage and penalize others with higher tax rates and non-deductibility.
As ISAR’s supporters know, through our major emphasis on legal and humane education programs, for decades we have promoted the important social policy of spay/neuter as a powerful weapon addressing the problem of dog and cat overpopulation.
ISAR can continue to promote that important social policy of reducing dog and cat overpopulation by enlisting in our cause every American who files a federal and/or state income tax return.
The taxpayers will benefit themselves and their intact dogs and cats, while striking an important blow for spay/neuter and against dog and cat overpopulation.
Through a simple legislative enactment.
Congress and/or the state legislatures should allow an income tax deduction for the spaying/neutering of taxpayers’ pet dogs and cats.
Granted, obtaining such legislation from the federal House Ways and Means Committee, which writes national tax laws, or the IRS, which regulates the taxation of income, might be problematic. But not impossible.
On the state level, however, the situation is much different. There, legislators are much closer to their voting constituents and thus respond more readily to the people’s concerns, as many animal rights activists already know from their efforts to obtain the enactment of other pro-animal legislation.
ISAR’s proposed legislation is a win-win proposition. There’s something in it for everyone.
First, countless animals would be spayed or neutered who otherwise might not be, countless unwanted births would be avoided, and the overpopulation problem would be that much diminished.
Although there would be a minuscule drop in tax revenues, there would be a concomitant savings of considerable taxpayer dollars that are now spent on catching, briefly maintaining, killing, and disposing of millions of unwanted dogs and cats.
Fewer unwanted dogs and cats means more time available to shelters and humane societies for more productive work, e.g., cruelty investigations, public education, adoption programs.
The modest tax relief which, though not large, would probably reduce or even eliminate the cost of spaying/neutering. This, in turn, would create more paying business for veterinarians, who could then, it is hoped, afford to provide more pro bono or lost-cost spay/neuter services to the truly needy custodians of dogs and cats.
ISAR is making this project – obtaining tax relief for persons who spay/neuter their dogs and cats – an important program in our fight against overpopulation.
Below is the outline of an off-the-shelf spay/neuter tax deduction bill that can be broadened and introduced into any state legislature and/or Congress.
As a 501(c)(3) organization, ISAR’s ability to lobby for the introduction and enactment of legislation is limited. We need volunteers to carry the ball for us—and for the animals.
ISAR’s proposal for a spay/neuter tax deduction is so simple, and could make such an impact on the overpopulation problem through increased spay/neuter, that there should be no lack of animal advocates who are willing to find a sympathetic legislator willing to carry ISAR’s proposed statute, or something similar, in his or her legislative body or administrative agency.
Several years ago, Representative Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI) introduced H.R. 3501 (the “Humanity and Pets Partnered through the Years (‘HAPPY’) Act”), formally entitled “A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow a deduction for pet care expenses.” The Bill was been referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means. [Apparently drawing its inspiration from ISAR’s Model Statute], proposed legislation recited Congress’s finding of fact that “63 percent of United States households own a pet” and that “the Human-Animal bond has been shown to have positive effects upon people’s emotional and physical well-being.” Mr. McCotter’s bill died in committee. When it was reintroduced in a later session of Congress, it suffered a similar fate. See https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/111/hr3501)
The IRC amendment would have allowed a “deduction for the taxable year an amount equal to the qualified pet care expenses of the taxpayer during the taxable year for any qualified pet of the taxpayer,’ limited to $3,500. (The bill defined “qualified pet care expenses” and “qualified pet.”)
Because ISAR is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization we couldn’t lobby for either bill, but we did let it be known that H.R. 3501 was a welcome development which we supported.
Several years ago, two West Virginia legislators introduced a bill “relating to creating a personal income tax credit for persons who may choose to spay or neuter their pets.” It, too, went nowhere.
That was the bad news.
The good news was that that their bill had been taken almost verbatim from the Model spay/neuter tax deduction statute ISAR was the first to propose.
It is said that nothing can stop an idea whose time has come. For this idea – ISAR’s “Model Spay/Neuter Tax Deduction Statute” – the time has surely come.
But we cannot do this alone. Please help.
ISAR’s Model Spay/Neuter Tax Deduction Statute
- Allowance of deduction.
a) Subject to the limitations provided in paragraph 2 hereof, there shall be allowed as a one-time deduction against adjusted gross income amounts paid by the taxpayer for the spaying and neutering of each dog and cat which is legally maintained as a pet in the taxpayer’s household.
a) The deduction herein provided shall be allowable only as to sums which have actually been expended for the spaying and/or neutering of dogs and cats.
b) The spay/neuter surgical procedure shall have been performed by a duly licensed veterinarian on a live dog or cat.
c) The amount of deduction for each cat or dog which shall have been spayed or neutered may not exceed the reasonable cost of the procedure in the county where the surgery was performed.
d) The deduction herein provided shall be limited to no more than three companion animals (i.e. dogs and cats) per household in any taxable year.
* * *