YouTube dogs: congressman wants tax breaks for pet owners

Republican Congressman Thaddeus McCotter of Michigan has introduced a bill that would allow pet owners to deduct up to $3,500 per year in pet care expenses.

The bill also has the distinction of being one of the most poorly-named pieces of legislation in U.S. history: the Humanity and Pets Partnered Through the Years Act, or "HAPPY Act."

In a video for DoggyTV on YouTube, he explained that "Well, we've had reports of people having to turn in pets because of the economic recession. And when you think about the relationship between people and pets and the humane way that it helps people think, it seemed to me to be a good idea, and we dropped it in."
Here's what I don't understand about that: If the concern is broke people having to turn in pets because of the recession -- and it's a very small minority of pet owners who are having to do that -- isn't there a better way to target the relief than a tax deduction?

Perhaps a $500 tax credit for people with pets who lose jobs? Or maybe we should just set up a new welfare program to support people with pets? The bigger question is why we need to make the tax code more complex.

In 2007, a Long Island taxpayer sent an impassioned letter to her congressman begging for the right to claim her "2 very expensive dogs" as dependents on her tax return: "If I should mistreat, neglect, abuse or deprive my dog of health care in any way, I can be arrested for animal cruelty. But yet, here we are, spending thousands and thousands of dollars each year giving my dogs the best care in emergency and non-emergency situations, what do we receive? My proposal is to be able to declare my dogs as dependents on my taxes at the end of the year."

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