Before we start giving tax breaks to people who spend hundreds of dollars on cat food every year, how about giving tax exemptions to people who buy people food?
How about lowering the tax rates across the board?
Representative McCotter, of Michigan, has proposed a $3,500 tax break for pet owners that would allow them to write off pet-related expenses. The congressman suggests that anything that will put money back into the hands of Americans during the recession is a good thing. The proposed bill bears the happy title: Humanity and Pets Partnered Through the Years Act (HAPPY).
Ok. Let me see if I understand this… H.A.P.P.Y. proposes that we reward people who choose to keep pets and spend their money in keeping their animals fed and healthy. It proposes that this reward be a tax break. Essentially, he suggests that the federal government ought to pay people who want to spend money on pets.
According to NPR, just over 50% of Americans own pets. It is entirely possible, if not likely, that many people will find this bill fits their best interests financially. However, these people have already made a choice that was not in their best financial interest. They brought another mouth to feed into their home. No one made them do it.
This is not an argument against keeping pets. There are plenty of good reasons to have a dog or cat. And, hey, this is America, you don’t need a reason. Do what you want.
But why should the 50% of us who don’t want pets give money to the 50% who do?
Pet ownership is a choice. We don’t give tax subsidies to people who choose to buy flat-screen TV’s. We don’t give tax breaks to people with expensive gardens.
Though people do become very attached to their pets and think of them as members of the family, pets are not people.
Tax credits exist for families with children because children are part of our human society. Children will contribute to the culture, to the work force, to society at large. Dogs won’t.
Exceptions to this point do exist. Police dogs and seeing-eye dogs actually contribute to our human society. If a tax credit was proposed for the people who raise and train these particular pets, I would immediately agree.
However, the family dog will never discover a new vaccine. The family cat will never rescue a baby from a burning building or pull a grown man from the wreckage of a car accident. A pet bird will never weld the girders of a bridge.
By all means, people ought to love their pets and care for them. Pets can be very good for human peace of mind.
But don’t ask me to pay for your furry, cuddly peace of mind.
Pet Alert: http://www.pijac.org/_documents/us_hr_3501_happy_act.pdf
National Public Radio