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Assistance dogs and personal income tax

Not all owners of assistance dogs may claim costs of an assistance dog as tax deductible expenses and decrease their taxable base. The entitlement to do so is available only to a person with a certain type and degree of a disability. The Helsinki Foundation has asked the Minister of Family, Labour and Social Policy to enable all owners of assistance dogs to decrease their taxable base by the amounts spent on their canine helpers, irrespective of a dog owner’s type and degree of a disability.

Under the Personal Income Tax Act, the taxable base may be decreased with the expenditures on the maintenance of an assistance dog. This right may be exercised by persons with a disability who are visually impaired and whose degree of disability was officially determined as “substantial” or “moderate”, and also persons with a “substantial” degree of physical disability. The maximum deductible amount of such expenditures is PLN 2280.

In its statement, the HFHR notes that the relevant provision of the Personal Income Tax Act does not mention persons with a hearing impairment using signal dogs and persons assisted by medical alert dogs. The Act also fails to take note of the visually impaired persons with a “mild” degree of disability and the physically impaired persons with a “moderate” or “mild” degree of disability. “It amounts to discrimination against persons with disabilities based on the type and degree of their disability”, says Dr Dorota Pudzianowska, a legal expert of the HFHR. “Based on applicable law, a signal dog should be considered a type of an assistance dog”, Dr Pudzianowska notes.

Provisions of the Personal Income Tax Act use the term “invalidity group”. This term has been absent from the Polish legal system since 1 September 1997, when it was replaced by the concept of “disability”, the HFHR’s lawyer Adam Klepczyński says. “It would be desirable to adjust the relevant terminology of the Personal Income Tax Act to that used in the Act on the social and vocational rehabilitation and employment of individuals with disabilities”, Mr Klepczyński observes.

The HFHR’s statement can be viewed here.

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