Doggone It, Life is Taxing

Cats, Dogs, Pets — By on April 15, 2012

 

As the tax season draws to a close, one can’t help but think that it’s better to be born a dog or cat.

The tax code is 3.8 million words long and it’s growing. The National Taxpayer Advocate says that in the past decade there have been 4,428 changes to the tax code. That’s more than one a day.  For some light reading, try the Bible. It’s a mere 783,137 words long.

Humans sure know how to make life difficult. Representative Del Latta once summed it up, “I hold in my hand 1,379 pages of tax simplification.” All these credits, deductions and exemptions exemplify the bureaucracy of being human. Meanwhile felines and canines, so-called “lesser” species, spend their days lazing about, sunning themselves and napping mightily.

Their biggest care in the world: what will be served for dinner. Of course, the dish du jour, who will serve it and what it will be served upon, can vary to a great degree. Unavoidably, the lives of companion animals are inexorably linked to those of their human guardians. Despite their modest needs, some pets have come into greater wealth than you or I will accrue in our lifetimes.

Drew Barrymore’s dog, for example, owns a $3 million Hollywood home.  Leona Helmsley left $12 million to her Maltese, Trouble. Should Oprah meet her maker, her pups have $30 million to fall back on.  ‘Course none of these canines have ever had to work a day in their lives. Apparently, when you’re a pooch, it is socially acceptable to be a mooch.

This excess is not solely an American trait. In a kittessential rags to riches story, Italian feral cat, Tommaso, met his owner on the streets of Italy, and 4 years later inherited over $13 million dollars. Countess Karlotta Libenstein of Germany left a fortune worth $372 million to her Alsatian, Gunther III, who in turn, left it to his son, Gunther IV, making him the richest dog alive.

But are these arguably well-meaning efforts a blessing or a curse? Perhaps, given the choice, these companion animals might even prefer poverty over privilege. Meetings with accountants, bankers and investment professionals can be so very tedious (or so I’ve heard). I’m betting the average dog would rather bury bones than wealth in off-shore accounts and would prefer fetching Frisbees than receipts.

Not to suggest that keeping track of one’s receipts isn’t important: after all, a junk yard was allowed to claim cat food expenses. They maintained the cats deterred rodents. Although the IRS cried foul, Tax Court agreed. The frugal feline or clever canine might be able to write off their fine caviar, shrimp farm and private chef.

Similarly, deductions have been permitted to owners of guard dogs for their upkeep and care while they are policing properties. Not to be a breedist, but experts agree: Chihuahuas need not apply.

I’m not an accountant but  (heads up uber-rich felines and canines) it seems to me that the smart money is in having your people create an S Corp and going onto payroll for what you do best:  pest control and security patrol.

Of course, Gunther may not be able to take advantage of these loopholes in Germany.  Still, better to be born in Germany than Reconvilier, Switzerland . This village has a 1904 law that mandates pooches of owners that don’t pay their canine tax be executed.  Although there has been international outrage, as we know, legislation tends to resist change.

No doubt this is why Representative McCotter’s HAPPY Act has not yet passed. This bill would have allowed our pets to be considered pseudo-dependents by the IRS. This act was aptly named in my opinion. I can’t wait for the day when my fur-childrens’ Frisbee fixations and catnip addictions are tax deductible.

That would bring me joy. Of course, so would a little less bureaucracy and a lot more simplification: or (even better) being chosen as Gunther’s trustee.

Until then, I’m going to emulate my pets and give it a rest, a long one– in the sun. When the 17th rolls by, I’ll just tell the IRS that the dog ate my taxes.

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