Government Reform

HAPPY Days or, Should Pets Be Tax Deductible?


Not completely relevant, but doesn't everyone want another tax deduction?

From Ed Morrissey of and American Issues Project comes news of a possible (and horrifying) tax exemption:

Earlier this week, I wrote about a new effort from a well-known conservative Congressman who wants to create a tax deduction for pet expenses. It gives an entirely new and ridiculous meaning to the phrase "pet project," and its name—the Humanity and Pets Partnered Through the Years ("HAPPY") Act— doesn't help make it sound any more serious. The bill proposes to reduce taxes to those taxpayers who have pets, and it's explicitly designed to encourage pet adoption, yet another example of social engineering by the federal government.

Consider the enforcement and verification implications of the HAPPY Act. The IRS will have to create new forms, which will then have to be reviewed by IRS auditors. Taxpayers will have to keep entirely new categories of records, including pet identification. Will we have to issue Social Security numbers for Spot and Whiskers, too? Costs of compliance will rise even further—and thanks to the demand that tax breaks will create, costs of pet supplies and veterinary services will also increase.

Morrissey notes that these sorts of idiotic and endlessly compounded exemptions show

the difficulty of eliminating the present tax code and replacing it with something simpler. Too many people have stakes in the existing deductions. Homeowners will shriek if the mortgage interest deduction disappears, and parents will burn the phone lines if Congress eliminates their deductions for their offspring. The more deductions that get offered, the more stakeholders they create in the status quo. And let's not forget that tax preparation industry, which would stand to lose hundreds of billions in a simplified system.

However, if those stakeholders were the only problem, Congress could probably sell an overhaul. As much as those deductions mean to taxpayers, a simplified system would mean more—in efficiency, in economic growth, and most importantly in individual liberty. An IRS in such a system would work as a simple collection agency, not an invasive, pervasive presence in our lives, giving the government access to information it should have no business accessing. Taxpayers would certainly want that.

Unfortunately, as the HAPPY Act and the other deductions show, Congress is the biggest obstacle to real reform. The existing tax code perfectly suits their purposes. It gives them the power to tinker with the choices made by Americans, from pet ownership to home ownership, and from procreation to fishing tackle. It also gives Congress an inordinate amount of power to pick winners and losers in the marketplace through tax incentives and penalties. In short, the existing tax code gives Congress far too much power for a legislature in a free society.

Whole col here.

Didn't late imperial Rome do stuff like this?

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  1. the Humanity and Pets Partnered Through the Years act

    “HAPPTTY”? Is it a tax break for pets or stutterers?

  2. New at Reason: Nick Gillespie wants to tax puppies and kittens.

  3. Are you sure this didn’t come from the Onion?

    1. The Onion, the House of Representatives…same thing.

      1. They’re not the same. The guys at The Onion actually read the stuff they write.


  4. I wonder if I could get an Earned Income Credit for my dogs and cat?

  5. Historically, (since the first income tax in 1913), all personal interest was deductible. Thus, the mortgage interest deduction isnt actually a created special benefit, the car/credit card/personal loan interest deduction went away for some reason.

  6. Also, the new comment box sucks.

  7. Optional photo alt tag:

    Dogs and heffers: pet friends forever

  8. Sure, we all know vertical stripes are slimming, but there are limits. Oh, yes, there are definitely limits.

  9. I’ve had more than one client try to get veterinary and pet supply expenses on their schedule A.

    Most people will pay an extra 500 bucks a year on their pet supplies and tax prep, they’ll have to keep track of their pet supply costs, and the deduction will be limited and only worth 100 bucks, but they’ll be so stoked that they got that pet deduction.

    So, like, that’s a guarantee that this will become law, right?

  10. IT’S BACON!!!!!!!

    Subtract Line 3 from Line 4 and enter the total here. If your dog humps your leg, please see Schedule C and attach addendum 29. Add this to Line 5.

    1. Deductions for removing dog barf stains from carpets should be made using Schedule S(team(ex)) and added to line 5A, unless a professional carpet cleaning service is used, in which case Schedule P should be used and 50% of line P21 should be entered on line 5C.

  11. This almost makes sense as a way to make fun of deductions for children.

  12. Would that make Michael Vick’s dog-fighting farm a tax write-off?

  13. I’ll be rich!!

  14. Morons. Nearly every one. I’m so sick of these idiots.

    I don’t want your damn convoluting tax credits. I just want taxation to be simple, and minimal.

  15. Congress is the biggest obstacle to real reform.


  16. Let me get this straight… There is a select group of people out there who would not otherwise adopt an animal who will suddenly choose to do so once they can get a tax write-off. And we want to encourage these people to adopt dogs?

    Now, I realize that we rarely run into unintended consequences when it comes to legislation, but it seems to me that this is just as likely to encourage people to “upgrade” from mutts to purebreds as it is to encourage people to adopt pets in the first place.

  17. Wouldn’t it be simpler and cheaper for congressvermin to just have a “free puppies” box in front of the Capitol?

    1. “Simpler and cheaper” and “congress” do not go in the same sentence.

      1. Unless you’re saying something like “It would be simpler and cheaper to light every member of Congress on fire.”

        1. Man, the column Tommy Friedman would write if he read that comment would be LEGENDARY!

        2. Simpler, cheaper, and far more entertaining.

  18. The more tax credits and exemptions the better. Think “remaining freedoms” not “loopholes”.

  19. And let’s not forget that tax preparation industry, which would stand to lose hundreds of billions in a simplified system.

    And the IRS, which wouldn’t need about 80% of its present employees.

  20. But what about the deficit, you ask? It’s getting so big now compared to income tax “revenues” that we may as well just do away with the income tax, and let the Fed monetize the entire deficit every year. What a stimulus that would be!

  21. Pets or meat?

  22. not a libertarian (but you might have a point there)[the handle won’t fit anymore in the new commenting system]

    How do all of these “these sorts of idiotic and endlessly compounded exemptions” work for or against

    Obama’s not-so-secret plan to raise taxes

  23. I think both for and against. For, because they act as chaff to distract people from the bigger and worse proposals. But also against, because people get confused and overloaded and just start saying “no” to everything.

    (P.S.: No preview button anymore?)

  24. The dumbass is from my county too.

  25. The dumbass is from my county too.

    1. J sub D

      I don’t think server squirrels (even Jedi Server Squirrels) would qualify as pets under this program.

  26. What qualifies as a pet? For instance, can’t I declare that viruses and bacteria inhabiting my body are pets? What about pet rocks? Robots? Plants?

  27. I wonder, is it possible that someday someone will make aproposal so stupid that even Congress will not pass it?

    Actually, I doubt this one’s going anywhere. That’s right, I think this one’s so stupid that even Congress will not pass it.

    1. The theory is sound. But you have to realize, any bill THAT stupid would make a normal person’s head explode. Finding someone capable of crafting it would be difficult.

      Is this one stupid enough? I dunno, my head is still intact. Anyone have a head explosion from reading about it?

  28. “Didn’t late imperial Rome do stuff like this?”

    Actually it was Caligula (Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus), the third Emperor, who made his horse a Senator and planned to make him Consul.

    Unfortunately Incitatus had too much horse sense and was removed from the Senate after Caligula’s death.

    1. Horses for congress! No bill would ever get passed.


  29. If veterinary services become deductible while medical ones aren’t people are going to die.I’ll see to it myself.

  30. Actually it was Caligula (Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus), the third Emperor, who made his horse a Senator and planned to make him Consul.

    Of course, we just go halfway, we only make horse’s asses Senators.

  31. I see the cat lady lobby is mighty powerful.

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