Your Health, Dogs & Tax Deductibility
By Jim Schwartz, NAPP Founder (*)
 
Freud’s advice is good for mice (but deductible JDS)
Old saying
 
·         AIG study found that those with a dog live on average 7 years longer
·         Studies by Dr. Karen Allen & others show having a companion animals:: 
 
1.      lower blood pressure,
2.      lower cholesterol levels,
3.      improve cardiovascular health,
4.   relieve the depression associated with serious illnesses like AIDS improving survival rates
5.      human dog intereactions (i.e. gazing) elicit the same time of oxytocin (hormone) positive as seen between mothers and their infants. And that, in turn, may explain why we feel so close to our dogs, and vice versa. Science Mag April 2015
 
Of course, the aforementioned doesn’t include the health benefits bestowed by dogs, particular, in the roles of
 
1.      therapy dogs
2.      assistance dogs
3.      hearing dogs
4.      epileptic alert dogs
5.      cancer detection
 
As many a police officer (and begrudgingly home security specialist) will admit, probably the best deterrent to an intruder (which could conceivably impact one’s physical and mental well being if in a confrontation) is the deterrent of having a dog (thus saving in homeowner insurance premiums – a fact the insurers ignored  in their calculations even though dogs are a deterrent to claims.
 
Overall American birth replacement rates (except a bump in 2013) have declined. Data from the National Center for Health Statistics show that the TFR (total fertility rate) dropped to 1.9 in 2010—well below the replacement level of 2.1. However, according to Mark Penn in Microtrends, companion animals are growing at the 200% the rate of kids in U.S. households and are now per recent estimates totaling over 200 million in 100 million US households. And an interesting side note, the fastest growth rate of companion animal guardianship is 3 or more by the age demographic age 50+. Given estimates that 19% of the senior population is classified as ‘orphan seniors’ (no family) the companion animal(s) take on greater significance in the continued health and well being of those 50+.
 
Now companion animals are not without significant costs – be it initial cost & damage, veterinary bills, grooming, feeding etc. And yes, there is sometimes the bark, poop and pee (especially when younger). So let’s say, at the very very high end with pet health insurance as well - on average Simcha and Goodie (say each run on average $6,000 a year - ((it is below that though)))
Now let’s contrast this with having a child born in 2013 to the age of 18 will cost a middle income couple just over $245,000. In its most recent survey of college pricing, the College Board reports that a "moderate" college budget for an in-state public college for the 2014–2015 academic year averaged $23,410. (A moderate budget at a private college averaged $46,272.) So 4 years of room board tuition and books (remembering less than 50% finish college now in 4 years) that’s $92,000 at the public school. But there is another cost not factored in (the difference between college education cost inflation ((which has run between 300% to 400% of the cost of living index – say 9% vs 3% or a 6% differential)) being invested in one’s retirement plans let say at for 18 year at 8% - that is an opportunity cost of for arguments sake at a $5500 differential meaning as much as $80,000 diverted from your work free retirement per child and or having to be a greeter at Wal Mart. So conceivably we are looking at a cost of $400,000 to $500,000 per child thru public college (obviously much higher is there is private college attendance)
 
Now, lets say the average dog lives even 15 years at evenn $6000 per year thus costing $90,000. That alone is a cost benefit favorable differential of 444% to 555% in favor the dogs which doesn’t even factor in the child coming home having graduated from college without a job resenting you, the additional financial cost of living with you, and still thinking you are stupid. How does one calculate the relative psychic income deficit increasing the 4.4 or 5.5 :1 (1)benefit of a dog let alone the psychosomatic impact (increasing your medicare part D prescription premiums to you and the country) for Xanax™? Lastly, hypothetically, if you would college graduate son or daughter to his or her room (though without paying rent) for an hour turning off the WiFi while putting your dog in another room for the same amount of time – who is gonna come out wagging their tail inducing oxytocin and who will be wagging their finger  at you metaphorically depleting oxytocin?
 
Therefore, unless we get a flat, flatter, or consumption tax to replace the existing income tax system, doesn’t it make sense for the costs of our companion animals be included in calculating our medical deduction – or an exemption for taxes purposes to encourage a healthier and happier America?
 
Some people have shrinks, others clergy, and still others gurus - I have dogs.
 
Semper Fido,
 
In God & Dog I Trust, All Others Pay Cash
 
(*Schwartz is a recovering fee only personal financial life planner, author of two editions of ENOUGH, co founder of NAPFA, 1985 Personal Financial Planner of the Year. Having repented, he is now just A Man of Dog, founder & confounder of NAPP. Schwartz occasionally writes – due to regression to mean - on personal financial life planning matter at healingfinancialanxiety.blogspot.com.
 
1.- per analysis by Drs. Foster & Smith below given  ‘the lifetime high cost’ $39,000 the ratio goes from 4.5-5.5x becomes 10.2x to 12.8x in favor of canine companionship versus a child.
 
 
Product/Service
Cost 1st Year
Yearly Cost
Low Cost
My Cost
High Cost
Low Cost
My Cost
High Cost
Purchase Price 0 50 1000 0 0 0
Food 125 300 500 125 300 500
Vaccines 20 75 150 10 60 100
Vet Bills 40 75 400 40 125 400
Spay/Neuter 35 120 200 0 0 0
Bed 25 70 150 0 7 15
Treats 20 20 100 0 20 75
Chew Bones 20 90 150 0 20 50
Bowls 5 8 25 0 1 3
Collars 8 5 20 0 1 2
Leash 5 7 20 0 1 2
Training 15 40 450 0 10 100
Fence 0 750 1500 0 0 75
Vitamins 15 20 75 2 15 8
Flea Control 20 20 200 20 20 200
Heartworm 50 52 100 50 52 100
Shampoo 6 6 25 6 6 25
Grooming 0 0 400 0 0 400
Grooming Tools 8 8 250 1 0 25
Dental Care 0 0 40 0 0 40
Stain Cleaner 8 30 75 5 5 75
Waste Disposal 0 0 50 0 0 5
Training Aids 25 25 300 3 3 30
Deworming 6 6 30 6 6 30
Boarding 15 150 200 15 150 200
Crate 40 50 150 4 5 15
Car Restraint 0 0 100 0 0 10
             
Totals $511.00 $1977.00 $6600.00 $287.00 $807.00 $2485.00
             
Total over the life of a 14 year old dog       Low Cost My Cost High Cost
        $4,242.00 $12,468.00 $38,905.00