Tax Deductions for Dog-Training Businesses
As a dog-trainer, cutting your taxes can make a big difference to your bottom line. You can take the deductions available to any business owner, such as employee costs. That includes salary, wages, bonuses, employee expenses and fringe benefits. Other expenses you can write off are more distinctive to the dog-training industry.
Liability protection is important for any business. It's particularly important when you're training animals with sharp teeth that may be willing to use them. You can also end up in trouble if your client decides you aren't caring for his pet the way he assumed you would. The costs of liability insurance are fully deductible as a business expense. So is the cost of an attorney to draw up client contracts that limit your liability.
If you take classes or certification programs to prepare you for a dog-training career, there's no write-off. Once your business begins, any training or program that improves your skills or business is a valid write-off. For example, a special course in training service animals would be deductible. So would education in general business skills, such as managing a budget or setting up your website. Driving to class is also a deductible business expense.
The IRS says businesses expenses are deductible if they're reasonable and necessary for your line of work. As a dog-trainer, dog collars, dog food, treats, dog toys and muzzles would usually qualify. So do office furniture, computers and other equipment. If you have to wear safety clothes and gloves, those are deductible if they're not suitable as daily wear. The IRS rules say that clothes you can wear away from work aren't deductible, even if it's a style you'd never be caught dead in.
Donating your abilities to charity -- training seeing-eye dogs at no cost, say -- is never deductible. Even if you pass up paying jobs to do it, volunteering time and services is not a write-off. You can, however, take a write-off for some of the related costs. Any dog food, treats or other supplies you use or donate are a valid write-off. Driving while volunteering is deductible at 14 cents a mile.