Tax Credit for Pet Adoptions? It’s Being Considered

Salem, Ore. – Oregon would be the first state to offer a tax credit for animal adoptions. Adopting a pet could become a little easier on the wallet in Oregon, if a proposed animal adoption tax credit under consideration in Salem is approved.

Sens. Alan Olson and Peter Courtney, Democrats from Canby and Salem, are sponsoring the measure, which would provide a tax credit of up to $100 for adopting an animal from a shelter. Oregonians would be able to claim one pet adoption related tax credit per year, two for a married couple filing jointly.

The price of adopting an animal is going up, in part because of the services offered by shelters, such as spaying or neutering, microchipping and providing vaccinations.

Sen. Courtney said adopting a dog from the Willamette Humane Society, which serves his district, now runs between $100 and $350, while adopting a kitten is $100.

Between adoption fees and the purchase of supplies needed by a new pet owner, bringing home an animal can add up to $500 or more, Courtney said.

The proposed tax credit would allow qualified taxpayers to deduct the cost of the adoption and related veterinary fees from their state tax liability — up to $100.

The Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society of Oregon has endorsed the proposal as a way to help move animals through the shelter system quickly. Testimony presented at the same hearing by Tax Fairness Oregon opposed the measure, calling it a “clever idea” that would nonetheless shortchange Oregon students in light of the state’s $1.8 billion anticipated budget shortfall. Without changes to the state’s tax system that provide adequate funding for education, legislators should avoid creating new tax credits, tax incentives or tax breaks, the group said.

Lynn Ochida with the Humane Society of Central Oregon said she and others at the shelter have heard only a bit about the proposal, but that it seems like a good idea in concept provided it doesn’t create a paperwork burden for shelter operators.

Ochida said Courtney’s observation that shelters are putting more and more money in to preparing animals for adoption is on target.

The Humane Society of Oregon hasn’t raised adoption prices for a few years, Ochida said. Standard fees are set at $80 for a dog, $75 for a kitten, and $20 for an adult cat, she said. Fees for highly desirable breeds of dogs are often higher, Ochida said, to deter people from adopting a shelter dog and reselling it at a higher price.

Two other animal-related bills of note will be under consideration in Salem during this year’s session.

One would authorize the state fish and wildlife commission to issue harvest permits for deer and elk accidentally killed in a vehicle collision. Another would require fur trappers to check their traps at least once every 24 hours — the current rule is 48 hours — and to post a sign within 5 feet of each trap on public land to alert passers-by of its presence.