Pet as Clergy Housing Expense?
August 27, 2019
6 comments 329 views
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.
Just thinking out loud.
Most security systems are tied in to a central security office. When the alarm goes off, police are notified and they investigate. Security systems can also be regularly checked to ensure that they are in operating order.
How does one determine if your dog will bark, cause a fuss, attack anyone who enters your house unannounced?
If your dog is a family pet that, at best, would lick someone to death, it wouldn't qualify.
On the other hand, if you have a Doberman, keep it caged, feed it only occasionally, it may very well qualify as an Extreme Security System.
Perhaps the easiest way to determine if your dog is a legitimate 'housing expense' is to ask your home insurer: ie Does a dog quality as a security system? I doubt it.
Thanks Kieth, the security company calls you and you have to check it out and call the police yourself. The security company will send someone at a charge. The police are too over worked to answer house alarms. It was the police who told me a dog would be more effective than an alarm system. The question regarding the housing exclusion rose to my mind when I read that Guard dogs are acceptable business expenses according to the IRS. I guess we could ask college presidents, military personnel and a host of other people benefiting from the exclusion. My dog is an Akita. This from the Akita Rescue Society should dispel any concerns about its guarding abilities: http://www.akitarescue.com/Facts%20about%20Akitas.htm. I'm going to ask my accountant to look into it.
Housing expense or not, we were always able to write off all our pet expenses as charitable contributions because our cat told us the money spent on her counted as tithing...
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