The average American pet owner spends hundreds of dollars on pet medical expenses every year. If you’re one of them, you might be wondering if your veterinary bills are covered by your flexible spending account (FSA) or your health savings account (HSA). The short answer is no—but there are a few exceptions.
Emotional support or service animals can qualify
Tax-free FSA or HSA spending does not extend to your pets. However, if you have an emotional support or service animal, then, per the IRS, you can use those funds to pay for expenses that help the animal do its job:
“…the costs of buying, training, and maintaining a guide dog or other service animal to assist a visually impaired or hearing disabled person, or a person with other physical disabilities. In general, this includes any costs, such as food, grooming, and veterinary care, incurred in maintaining the health and vitality of the service animal so that it may perform its duties.”
How animals qualify
In terms of qualification, a service animal is defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act as a working animal that assists a person with a disability (like a seeing eye dog), whereas emotional support animals help people with mental or emotional disabilities. However, therapy animals—another type of designation for animals that visit hospitals or nursing homes—are not considered qualified for discounted medical spending, per the FSA Store.
In case you’re wondering, you can’t just say your animal is either a service or emotional support animal to qualify. The IRS only qualifies expenses if you already have a Letter of Medical Necessity—essentially, a doctor’s note confirming that you need an emotion support or service animal—at the time the vet bill is incurred.
If you have a qualified animal, the expenses can be paid directly with your FSA or HSA card, or with your own debit or credit card, with payments reimbursed through your FSA or HSA. Just make sure you keep receipts in case your FSA administrator requires documentation.