Pet as Clergy Housing Expense?


When I moved to California literally everyone subscribed to a security service but a policeman told me I'd be better off with a dog.  He said dogs work better as a deterrent than alarm systems (because no one pays attention to alarms —which I have observed:  they go off sometimes for hours with nothing happening).  I had a dog at that time that loved every human good or bad but she had a very imposing presence (an Akita) that worked very well —I never had a break in though neighbors around me with their systems did.  The dog recently passed away and I've acquired an another.  

The thought arose: If you can include the cost of a security system as a housing expense for the housing exclusion, can you count a dog as your security system?  Anyone know?

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While I'm not an expert and I've never heard of anyone trying this, I strongly suspect that in an IRS audit you would lose this argument quickly, and be charged the appropriate back taxes and penalties. Besides, as pastors our primary asset is our reputation for integrity. I have no problem with pastors using every allowable tax break, and have done so myself. But I would personally never engage in this kind of "creative" deduction.

Thanks for the answer.  I never do anything without having the law clearly behind me (part of the reason for my question), so integrity is not at issue here.  I was merely asking because according to the IRS:

1.  security systems are allowable for the housing exclusion

2.  dogs are deductible for businesses who use them for security (and were also when home offices were deductible) 

so the question is simply would they be allowable also for security for the housing exclusion. 

Don't worry, I have no plan of doing so unless some legal guidance has been given somewhere.

Thanks again for your opinion.


Absolutely no intention to question your integrity. Interesting that businesses that use dogs for security can deduct the expense. That provides more legal grounding than I had anticipated. Perhaps it will come down to your own internal balancing of whether you are primarily getting another dog for the security or as a pet.