By MEHAK BANSIL
Capital News Service
Oct. 2, 2009
LANSING—Furry friends’ owners might get HAPPY with a tax break for veterinary expenses.
The proposal by U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, R-Livonia, would allow a federal income tax deduction up to $3,500 a year.
The acronym HAPPY stands for the Humanity and Pets Partnered Through the Years Act.
“No matter the age of the owner, pets have been shown to reduce stress, safeguard against depression, improve social skills and even ease loss,” McCotter told other members of Congress in a letter.
HAPPY would cover everything from procedures like de-clawing and fixing broken bones to treatment for common ailments like worms and parasites. This would make it much easier to keep the pets that might end up in a shelter for financial reasons.
McCotter’s legislative assistant, Natalie Rose, said, “We noticed that in a recession a lot of pets have been ending up in shelters and we’re hoping it’ll help bring more pets out them.”
Popular surgeries like spaying or neutering would be completely tax-deductible, possibly making animal overpopulation easier to control.
“Although we can’t say for sure, if this bill led to fewer animals on the streets that would be fantastic,” said George Carr, a lobbyist for the Okemos-based Michigan Veterinary Association.
Jennifer Robertson, public relations coordinator for the Bingham Farms-based Michigan Humane Society, agreed.
“Anything that assists pet owners in seeking and receiving proper veterinary care for their companions, especially during these tough economic times, is something we’d be in favor of,” Robertson said.
Although Rose said she doesn’t know how much federal tax revenue would be lost if the bill becomes a law, she looks at it as a way for people to keep more of their money.
“It’s like rewarding people for good behavior – – they’re taking care of their pets,” Rose said.
The proposal is pending in the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee.
© 2009, Capital News Service, Michigan State University School of Journalism. Not to be reproduced without permission.