ISAR’s Model Spay/Neuter Tax Deduction Statute



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 in 2003 roughly 40% 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 through depletion allowances. 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. Taxes on tobacco 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, as part of our legal and humane education programs, for decades we have promoted the important social policy of spay/neuter as a powerful weapon in the problem of dog and cat overpopulation.

ISAR can 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, their intact dogs and cats, and strike an important blow for spay/neuter and against dog and cat overpopulation.

How? Like most important ideas, ISAR’s is simple……

Congress and/or the state legislatures should allow a 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 other hand the situation at the state level is much different. There, legislators are much closer, and typically respond more readily, to their constituents–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 and neutered who would otherwise might not be, and countless unwanted births would be avoided.

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 and dogs 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 charge for 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 low-cost spay/neuter services to the truly needy custodians of dogs and cats.

An indirect, but nonetheless important, benefit of reducing the number of unwanted cats and dogs are the public health and policy aspects, e.g.: at minimum, reduction of the overpopulation problem, with the attendant consequences.

ISAR is making this project–obtaining tax relief for persons who spay/neuter their dogs and cats–a priority.

Immediately below is the outline of an off-the-shelf bill that can be used for introduction 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, 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.

Often, there is an idea whose time has come. We believe that for this idea–ISAR’s “Model Spay/Neuter Tax Deduction Statute”–the time has surely come.

But we cannot do this alone. Please help.

“Model Spay/Neuter Tax Deduction Statute”

    1. Allowance of deduction.

  1. 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 maintained as a pet in the taxpayer’s household.

    2. Limitations.

a.) The deduction herein provided shall be allowable only as to sums which have actually been expended.

b.) The spay or 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 spay and neuter procedure in the geographical location 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.


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