Tax Law

Tax Court Allows Lawyer to Deduct Some Care Expenses for Dozens of Foster Cats


A California lawyer who cared for dozens of foster cats in her Oakland home may deduct part of her claimed $12,000 in expenses, the U.S. Tax Court has ruled.

Jan Elizabeth Van Dusen was a volunteer for Fix Our Ferals in 2004, according to the opinion (PDF) released last week. She trapped feral cats, had them neutered, cared for them in her home, and released them to the wild or attempted to place them in no-kill shelters. She cared for 70 to 80 cats at her home that year, about seven of which were pets.

The Tax Court allowed some of Van Dusen’s expenses as charitable contributions, TaxProf Blog reports.

The court said some of the claimed expenses were not related to foster cat care and not deductible. They included the costs of cremating a pet cat, bar association dues, and fees related to her vehicle.

The court allowed cat-care expenses of less than $250 substantiated by Van Dusen’s records, but disallowed higher expenses because she did not have a contemporaneous written acknowledgment from Fix Our Ferals.

Van Dusen praised the decision in an interview with Ashlea Ebeling’s Forbes blog The Best Revenge. “It’s a huge win for all the rescue people out there,” she said. Van Dusen currently has about 60 cats, and is considering starting her own feral cat charity.

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