Should Pet Owners Get Tax Break For Fido?

Should you get a $3,500 tax credit for owning a pet?

Rep. Thaddeus McCotter of Michigan certainly thinks so; he's introduced a bill to that effect. It has the felicitous name of Humanity and Pets Partnered Through the Years or HAPPY Act.

NPR's Andrea Seabrook reported on the legislation on All Things Considered Wednesday.

She acknowledged that just because a bill is introduced, that doesn't mean it's going anywhere. This bill has been referred to the House Ways and Means Committee where it will most likely die of neglect.

Democrats are already strapped for revenue to run the government and repay its debt. It's hight unlikely they'd push a new tax credit that would further reduce the federal treasury by billions of dollars annually.

Still, it's such an unusual idea, it's worth taking note of, if only to skewer.

Andrea went out on the street near the U.S. Capitol to speak with real people.

"Are you kidding?" said Beth Selby, a visitor to the National Mall from Georgia, when asked about the proposed tax break. "Pets are an option. You know, when you take on a pet, you take on their care."

Tom James from Pennsylvania was uncertain. "I'm sort of on the fence with this one." But Pablo Otera, also from Pennsylvania, said, "Hell, yeah." He said he recently spent $4,000 on his dog, Petey.

"He fell off my truck, needed surgery, needed therapy, needed a whole bunch of stuff," Otera said. "That's $4,000 I could have deducted from my taxes ... and food, too!"

Andrea also mentions that McCotter wouldn't speak with her about the idea but he has discussed it on DoggyTV.

Aside from the fact that it's difficult to see House Democrats embracing this bill, the legislation also has some language problems.

For instance, a "qualified pet means a legally owned, domesticated, live animal" according to the bill.

But that would seem to leave out tropical fish, including piranha, which can't really be described as domesticated. What about snakes and other reptiles?

To use a phrase Bill Clinton might have employed against this legislation, that dog just won't hunt.

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