Thursday, October 15, 2009
Does This Make You HAPPY?
Congressman Thaddeus McCotter (R. Michigan) has introduced a bill that would allow a tax deduction of up to $3500 for - ready? - pet care. (Note that you're still on the hook for your own care, or your kids'.) It's called the HAPPY act, Humanity and Pets Partnered through the Years.
The rationale is that pets improve their humans' health by reducing stress and improving mood, especially useful in bad times like these. And sometimes they certainly do. It is comforting to cuddle a furball when you're feeling down. Gotta give 'em that. Other times, though, they're shredding your furniture or depositing any of a wide variety of messy presents on the carpet. In my experience, the effect on stress is kind of a wash.
Still, we really do love our fur children. It is a tragedy that so many unemployed workers are having to give up their animals to shelters. I would be devastated to abandon our beloved Gatsby here, but I can certainly understand the financial pressure. We've spent hundreds in vet bills this year alone, thousands over his lifetime, and now the guy needs a special diet that I suspect is made of ground-up gold.
The bill might enable more of us to keep our pets. That would definitely be a win for us, our companion creatures, our overcrowded shelters, and the pet care industry.
But really, here's the thing: We are bankrupt. America is so far in debt that we will never, ever get out and we are still hemorrhaging money. The Treasury is collecting less and less from our paychecks, and more and more from selling IOUs to other countries. Is now the time for new tax deductions for pet care?
I'm not so sure.