So, you started a pet care business, and from day one you've had cash in hand from your dog walking or cat sitting clients. Now it's almost April 15th, and you're tweaking out about your taxes with no accountant in sight. Don't fret. Check out these major categories of deductions applicable to most pet sitting businesses, then use TurboTax or another tax software program to walk you through the steps. Gather and add up your receipts, then it's as simple as plug and payout—you may even be able to file for free!
Go ahead: giggle. As a professional pet sitter, the yearly cost of poop bags is a legitimate and qualified expense on your itemized deductions, and so are any other business-related products: sneakers and rain gear for yourself (if you're a walker); shampoos, brushes, and your water bill if you're a groomer; and more. Think long and hard about everything you've bought over the course of the year that you use in your job daily. For next year, try purchasing your supplies in bulk so they are easier to track as expenses come tax time.
2. Getting Around
Do you use your car more than 50% of the time for your pet sitting business? You're in luck. That qualifies you to deduct gas, mileage, repairs and maintenance from your taxes. For next year, you'll need to keep a log in your car and an envelope for receipts to track daily use and maximize your allowable deductions, but for this year, you can at least deduct oil changes and other wear-and-tear if you have the receipts and documentation.
3. Tech Stuff
You know you need to stay connected in order to be professional, but did you know that you can claim all those wired needs as tax deductions? Your cell phone, computer repairs and equipment, web design and hosting fees, blog, cable internet access—even your Care.com Featured Caregiver status—all qualify as business-related expenses.
4. Helping Hands
Do you donate to pet-related charities like the Humane Society or ASPCA? Even if you aren't donating money, clothing and supply donations are deductible in the amount of their estimated value. Get rid of gently used items from your own business, help out your local shelter, and catch a tax break next year at the same time—just make sure to ask for a receipt. If you make a larger cash donation for an annual event, like the Walk for Animals, or sponsor a team, you can use that to offset taxes owed (because, as a small business owner, you should be filing quarterly.)
5. Information Overload?
In order to do your job well, you probably subscribe to at least one pet-related magazine and belong to at least one professional pet sitting organization, like NAPPS. Make sure to document and track your subscription and membership fees over the course of the year, including any professional development courses or seminars, because these also count as business-related expenses and can save you serious cash come tax time.
May your refunds be as big as a Mastiff and your payments be small as a gerbil!
Did we miss anything? Share your best tax tips for pet sitters with us and the whole Care.com community by posting a comment below.