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Get a dog, save on your taxes?
October 8, 2009 3:29 PM   Subscribe

On July 31 of this year, Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI) introduced H.R. 3501, a bill aimed at granting tax deductions to owners of companion animals. Known as the HAPPY Act — Humanity and Pets Partnered Through the Years — it would create a deduction of up to $3,500 on federal tax returns for the care of "qualified" pets, defined as "legally owned, domesticated, and live animals." As of yet, there are no co-sponsors. So did McCotter introduce the bill due to being a genuine supporter of animal protections, or is this one Republican's way of trying to ensure taxpayers get to keep more of their money? Either way, the ASPCA approves, as do actors Leo Grillo and Robert Davi. via
posted by lovermont (37 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
..."Thaddeus"?
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:35 PM on October 8, 2009


"The HAPPY Act"?

Is there a particular Congress office that comes up with these acronyms?
posted by Joe Beese at 3:41 PM on October 8, 2009


I don't think this is a terrible idea - pet care is expensive. Anybody who has ever had to take a pet to the vet for an emergent condition knows how quickly the money goes. If this is something that gets people to take better care of their pets, gets them to drop a few dollars to get them on higher-quality food, then I'm generally all for it. I think that there should be more qualifiers, though - to qualify, you have to have your animal spayed/neutered, pet has to be current on all vaccinations, etc. These qualifiers could potentially be cost-savers, too - if there is motivation to spay/neuter, or get vaccinations, there may be fewer strays and public health concerns.
posted by honeybee413 at 3:48 PM on October 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Wait - you mean Leo Grillo of the 1978 TV movie "The Defection of Simas Kudirka," and Robert Davi of "Stargate Atlantis"? This is big. This is really big.
posted by brain_drain at 3:49 PM on October 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is there a particular Congress office that comes up with these acronyms?

I think they have Marvel do it.

("I just thought of the best name! H.A.M.M.E.R.! Badass, right? What does it stand for? uuuuuh does it need to stand for something?")
posted by Solon and Thanks at 3:50 PM on October 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, shouldn't it be the HAPPTTY Act? Or the HPPTY?
posted by Solon and Thanks at 3:51 PM on October 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm looking forward to some legislation to reduce the prevalence of stupid backronyms. I think it should be called the Bills Using Long Laboured Silly Handles Impair Thought Act.
posted by pompomtom at 4:05 PM on October 8, 2009 [5 favorites]


You hear that Democrats? THIS is how you name a bill. How do you think the Cleaner Air Act and Patriot Act passed?

This is pretty porkish, though. At first, I read "companion animals" to mean animals that help people with disabilities or psychological issues (like the dogs for veterans with PTSD).
posted by mccarty.tim at 4:09 PM on October 8, 2009


This can't happen too soon. I am so totally tired of having to claim my guppy as my adopted daughter, tax year after tax year after tax year.
posted by jfuller at 4:10 PM on October 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Not to derail too much, but: I know these acronyms sometimes seem silly and contrived (with the worst example of course being the PATRIOT Act), but as a lawyer who deals regularly with federal statutes, I appreciate the ones that have nifty abbreviations. To take a couple of examples, which would you rather reference in a conversation -- the Economic Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act ("EGTRRA"), or the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act ("COBRA")?
posted by brain_drain at 4:14 PM on October 8, 2009


I'm looking forward to some legislation to reduce the prevalence of stupid backronyms. I think it should be called the Bills Using Long Laboured Silly Handles Impair Thought Act.

I see what you did there.
posted by notreally at 4:18 PM on October 8, 2009


How this is playing out in Portland, Oregon: Who Let The Dogs In? and It’s Raining Service Animals. Summary: with vague definitions of what a service animal is, (a) people are bringing any kind of animal they want anywhere they want and predictable outcomes occur (b) people with disabilities suffer for the whims of the self-indulgent.
posted by eccnineten at 4:22 PM on October 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm frankly astonished that it apparently isn't a way for factory farms to get out of paying taxes. Also, as to stupid bill names, I'm waiting for PINATA (the PINATA Is Not A Tariff Act.)
posted by "Elbows" O'Donoghue at 4:27 PM on October 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


I would support legislation to keep stupid acronyms out of politics. It's pretty hard for a politician to publically vote against something called the HAPPY act, even if it was a political campaign for public orphan sacrifices.

As far as this act goes, I'm against it. I know people love their pets, and I like animals myself, but in the end they're really just a form of entertainment. I don't know why they should be more subsidized than my video games or road biking.
posted by Mitrovarr at 4:45 PM on October 8, 2009


Given that it's Thaddeus McCotter (the guy is pretty right-wing), I'm pretty sure he's just coming up with ways for people not to pay less in taxes. This bill is sort of a running joke in my office (not that pets aren't great and everything, but...the HAPPY Act, really?)

There is sort of a split on the Hill between Members who adore acronyms (they're memorable and easy to work with) and people who think that such cutesiness is unserious and annoying (Barney Frank is an example of the latter).
posted by naoko at 4:47 PM on October 8, 2009


H.A.M.M.E.R. is the brainchild and operation of Norman Osborne. Norman's son is named Harry. They are both drug addicts who crave the flesh of the small and weak, thus:

Harry And Me Must Eat Rabbits

Is the obvious answer.
posted by NiteMayr at 4:47 PM on October 8, 2009


The acronyms are memorable and easy to work with, that is, not the Members who support acronyms. I have it on good authority that McCotter is in fact not an especially easy person to work with.
posted by naoko at 4:49 PM on October 8, 2009


I don't think this is a terrible idea - pet care is expensive. Anybody who has ever had to take a pet to the vet for an emergent condition knows how quickly the money goes. If this is something that gets people to take better care of their pets, gets them to drop a few dollars to get them on higher-quality food, then I'm generally all for it. I think that there should be more qualifiers, though - to qualify, you have to have your animal spayed/neutered, pet has to be current on all vaccinations, etc. These qualifiers could potentially be cost-savers, too - if there is motivation to spay/neuter, or get vaccinations, there may be fewer strays and public health concerns.

I love pets too, but I really think taking care of, say, our uninsured humans comes way, way ahead of subsidizing pet ownership.
posted by justkevin at 5:28 PM on October 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


I know people love their pets, and I like animals myself, but in the end they're really just a form of entertainment. I don't know why they should be more subsidized than my video games or road biking.

If the tax deduction was only for owners of adopted (or otherwise not "bought")animals it would make a lot of sense, since adopting a pet is an act of charity. However, it looks like the credit is for everyone with a pet, even if they got it straight from the Petland puppy mills. Weird.
posted by Jess the Mess at 5:28 PM on October 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


justkevin: I love pets too, but I really think taking care of, say, our uninsured humans comes way, way ahead of subsidizing pet ownership.

Exactly. This is a dumb bill, and I would be opposed to it no matter who suggested it, or what he bill was named.
posted by paisley henosis at 5:31 PM on October 8, 2009


Jess the Mess: If the tax deduction was only for owners of adopted (or otherwise not "bought")animals it would make a lot of sense, since adopting a pet is an act of charity.

That is debatable, depending on your stance on animal welfare and animal rights. Personally, I think if we consider pet-animal welfare important enough to warrant these subsidies (which are substantial), we should act to enforce it on other levels - really go out and try to stop people from increasing the pet population and fine the shit out of people who breed animals irresponsibly. Couldn't be bothered to spay your cat and it had kittens? You should be legally responsible for their care until you can find them a good home, and if you can't then you do, in fact, have to keep them forever. Until a vet signs off that they died of natural causes.

That seems to me much more fair than giant subsidies we can't afford.
posted by Mitrovarr at 5:41 PM on October 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yes, but what does PeTA think?
posted by box at 5:56 PM on October 8, 2009


Personally, I think if we consider pet-animal welfare important enough to warrant these subsidies (which are substantial), we should act to enforce it on other levels - really go out and try to stop people from increasing the pet population and fine the shit out of people who breed animals irresponsibly. Couldn't be bothered to spay your cat and it had kittens? You should be legally responsible for their care until you can find them a good home, and if you can't then you do, in fact, have to keep them forever. Until a vet signs off that they died of natural causes.

I would completely agree with this except I think there are too many people who would destroy the evidence of their irresponsible breeding before they were caught.

That seems to me much more fair than giant subsidies we can't afford.

I don't think the subsidies necessarily need to be as large or widespread as McCotter is proposing but a little tax break for adopting a homeless animal - I fail to see how that could be a bad thing. God knows tax breaks are given for things far less noble.
posted by Jess the Mess at 5:57 PM on October 8, 2009


Is there a particular Congress office that comes up with these acronyms?

That's Thomas Pynchon's day job.
posted by brundlefly at 6:03 PM on October 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Tax deduction for dogs, say, for the blind? Great! Tax deduction for MY dog? That's moronic.
posted by absalom at 6:12 PM on October 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Personally, as someone who is single, not a homeowner, and childless, and who therefore gets very few tax breaks -- while people with, say, six kids, who have a hell of a lot bigger impact on the infrastructure than I do, get tons of breaks -- I would love to get a tax break on vet care. It is astronomically expensive, and since my cat died in June (after a hell of a lot of pricey vet care) I am not getting another cat. I simply can't afford the potential vet bills at the moment. So my apartment is empty, and a cat that could be adopted from a shelter isn't going to get a home.
posted by OolooKitty at 6:25 PM on October 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


I like how they specified how it has to be a "live animal" to count as a pet.
posted by smackfu at 6:26 PM on October 8, 2009


I'm all for taxing pet veterinary fees and using the funds to support homeless and women's shelters.
posted by benzenedream at 6:34 PM on October 8, 2009


Argh, that was supposed to be "to pay less in taxes" or "not to pay taxes," not "not to pay less in taxes." I fail at MeFi today.
posted by naoko at 6:35 PM on October 8, 2009


I like how they specified how it has to be a "live animal" to count as a pet.

TOWN HALL 2010:
Bob Rancher: So if my neighbor Bill Dermie's afghan hound dies, does he still get the tax break?
McCotter : What? No, the law would call for taxing Dermie.
posted by xorry at 8:48 PM on October 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


This is dumb as dumb. Trillion dollar budget deficits - I know, I have the answer. CUT TAXES. Duh. That always helps out. It's the answer to everything.

Let's not forget, owning pets is a choice, no one forces anyone to enter into what is a multi-billion industry.

Americans spend billions on their pets and with the economy nose-diving, many of those animals are ending up at the pound — or even worse, abandoned

Maybe, if we as a society care so much about cute little animals, we should be a bit stricter about who we allow to own pets. Feral animals are already a huge problem. And with economy nose diving, blah blah blah, more feral animals. This stupid.
posted by IvoShandor at 9:24 PM on October 8, 2009


tax deductions to owners of companion animals

Isn't this what Rick Santorum warned us about?!


Come on, Mefites... 30+ posts and no bestiality jokes yet?!
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:47 PM on October 8, 2009


"America. A land where spelling doesn't count; people's pets do!"

Bruce McCulloch wasn't too far from the mark there, was he?
posted by Spatch at 5:28 AM on October 9, 2009


With nine cats and two dogs, my HAPPY tax break would be more than my salary!
posted by battleshipkropotkin at 8:44 AM on October 9, 2009


Fuck your pets.
posted by Eideteker at 9:43 AM on October 9, 2009


Why do Democrats hate pets?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 12:37 PM on October 9, 2009


No, the law would call for taxing Dermie.

Not to derail, but MetaFilter needs a opposite-of-favorite feature.
posted by Bokononist at 2:56 PM on October 9, 2009


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