Rescuing and relishing Rover on National Dog Day – Wacky Tax Wednesday

Rescuing and relishing Rover on National Dog Day – Wacky Tax Wednesday

Aug. 26 is National Dog Day, which pleases a dog lover such as myself. Created in 2004 to honor dogs that “work selflessly each day to save lives, keep us safe and bring comfort,” it also strives to raise awareness and support for dogs in need of rescue.

According to, the best way to celebrate the day is to adopt a dog — but only if you can provide a safe and loving home. Those of us who already share our lives with a dog (or dogs) and have no room for more are advised to treat our dogs to a favorite treat. All humans are called to donate time or money to a local animal shelter.

With the possible exception of New York, whose Senate recognized Aug. 26, 2013, as National Dog Day, most states don’t do much to mark the occasion. However, some state sales tax policies do seem to encourage the adoption of dogs, particularly rescue dogs. Others seem to foster the positive treatment of dogs by exempting dog walking services. Read on for more details.

Adopt a dog

Pet adoption fees charged by animal rescue organizations are exempt from Washington sales and use tax as well as business and occupation (B&O) tax as of July 1, 2015. If such organizations charge separately for collars, leashes, food, or medicine, however, those charges are taxable. The exemption does not extend to Washington dog breeders, who must register with the Department of Revenue and collect and remit sales tax and B&O tax on retail sales of dogs.

The same is true in California. While the sale of dogs (and other “nonfood animals”) is generally taxable, adoption fees charged by local government animal shelters or nonprofit animal welfare organizations working toward the prevention of the abuse, exploitation, or neglect of animals are exempt. It’s worth noting that, in addition to dogs and cats, chinchillas and earthworms are also considered nonfood animals in California — a topic we may revisit next year on National Earthworm Appreciation Day.

Other states also tax general pet sales but exempt certain pet adoption fees. These include Kansas (when the fee covers charges for health exams, spaying and neutering, and vaccinations), Ohio (for fees charged by nonprofit animal shelters and county humane societies), and New York (for fees charged by humane societies).

However, pet adoption fees are generally taxable in Florida, which exempts only sales or rentals of guide dogs for the blind, as well as racing dogs whose owners are also the breeders. Minnesota taxes all pet sales except those to the federal government (not state or local governments) and its agencies, or school districts and local government owned hospitals and nursing homes. And South Dakota state and local sales tax applies to all sales of pets, including those sold by humane societies.

Treat your dog to a treat

For some dogs, there is no finer treat than a walk. Mine likes his walks to bookend a swim.

Dog walking services are generally exempt from sales tax in Maine, Texas, Washington, and  Washington, D.C. They’re also exempt in Wisconsin, provided the dog is picked up and dropped off at its home and the dog owner provides everything required for the walk.

On the other hand, pet care services are taxable in Rhode Island and Minnesota, where “providing entertainment” for animals is also taxable — a reference to dog movie nights, perhaps?

It’s impossible to explain Connecticut’s sales tax policies in a word. Dog walking services are exempt when charged in isolation but taxable when “provided in connection with dog boarding services,” unless those occur in the dog’s home. In-home dog sitting (when the sitter presumably also walks the dog) is exempt.

Finally, despite embracing National Dog Day in 2013, New York law takes a rather impersonal approach to dog care. It considers pets to be tangible personal property in New York, so their maintenance and service is taxable “under Section 1105(c)(3) of the Tax Law and Section 527.5 of the Sales and Use Tax Regulations.” Dog walking therefore qualifies as a taxable service. However, that’s only true if the dog walker is in the business of walking dogs. “Pet sitting services rendered by an individual who is hired directly by a private home owner or lessee, and who does not offer these services to the public as part of a regular trade or business” are exempt (TSB-A-00(35)S).

Learn more about how sales tax applies to your dear old dog here. Or, go outside and take your dog for a walk.

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