Tax season is upon us once again, and there’s an interesting deduction that many people might not know about — foster pets.
The decision in Van Dusen v. Commissioner makes it easier for volunteers of animal rescue groups to deduct unreimbursed expenses, like fostering stray animals.
“I remember reading about that court case,” said Randy Jordan, of American Preferred Tax Service, in Rockingham. “The court sided with the donor because she had documentation to back up her claims.”
Jan Van Dusen, who fosters cats for an IRS-approved charity, Fix Our Ferals, kept records of her receipts and documented what the items purchased were used for, everything from paper towels to kitty litter.
On her 2004 tax return, the IRS considered them nondeductible personal expenses and “wouldn’t budge,” said Ms. Van Dusen in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. It ended up in Tax Court in 2009, and she was notified that she was victorious in a precedent-setting case in 2011.
“Moving forward, we know that deducting foster care for pets through an IRS-approved charity is legal,” said Jordan. “The important thing to remember is to keep records and receipts, because any deductions are subject to be checked by the IRS.”
The judge did reduce the total deduction because Van Dusen didn’t have an official letter from the charity acknowledging her volunteer work for expenses of $250 or more.
“We have a form with our tax ID number, and we can assess and document the value of service provided,” said Valerie Davis, the new executive director at Humane Society of Richmond County. “We’re happy to provide those for foster volunteers, as well as any other donations to the organization.”
When fostering an animal and you want to write off your expenses:
- The organization you volunteer with must have 501(c)3 status.
- You must be able to show that your contribution furthers the group’s mission.
- You need a letter from the group acknowledging your donations if they are worth more than $250 (less than $250 and receipts or canceled checks should be enough).
Davis said anyone interested in fostering an animal can contact Allison Sweatt, the rescue, outreach and foster care coordinator at 910-895-0335.
— Staff Writer Kelli Easterling can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at email@example.com.