In the years since this page has been up, it's received many questions about cats and the income tax. At the time. I didn't know much about either subject -- I assume the questions were sent based on the site name. I'm still far from an expert, but I've looked things up here and there, and it adds up.
These are the most common questions I'm asked, with what I believe to be the most helpful replies:
Do cats need to pay income taxes?
No. Cats cannot have an income, so there are no taxes to pay. Anytime you think a cat is being paid, the money is really going to the cat's owner. It counts as regular income for that human.
If I pretend to be a cat, can I avoid paying taxes?
Very unlikely. Your 1040 would have your social security number and date of birth, and the IRS would quickly use that to determine that you were a human.
You would most likely be fined for filing a frivolous tax return (but not for tax fraud - they wouldn't think you were serious.)
Also, there's no specific tax-exempt status for cats. They simply fall into the class of not being human. If you were to try this ruse, you might pretend to be something more human-shaped, like a bear or a robot.
Is there a tax on cats?
No. Federal income tax has no provision for this. As a check, notice there is nowhere on the form to list cats.
If you buy a cat, you would pay the standard sales tax. You may have to pay a fee for a cat license. If you are paid in cats, you would need to estimate their cash value, and would pay tax on that amount.
What should I do if the IRS has called me about my cat's unpaid taxes?
The IRS will not contact you by telephone regarding your tax burden. That phone call was a scam. Or, more likely, a practical joke.
What is the process for a cat to pay inheritance tax?
Cats do not pay inheritance taxes, since they cannot inherit.
When money is left to a cat, it's a trust, and is treated the same as any other trust. A human would manage the trust, and would pay any fees associated with it. Also note that estate taxes only apply past 5 million dollars, which is much more than the amount of money to fully support a cat over its lifetime, even a kitten with dietary restrictions.
My cat has had income withheld. How do I file a return to get it back?
There should never be any withholding for cat income. If someone is paying for the services of your cat, the money goes to you, and should be reported on your tax form.
If an employer is withholding some additional amount, for reasons cat-related or otherwise, then are they are simply creating a fraudulent W-4 as a trick to underpay you.
Are these for Certified Annuity Trusts, or Certified Amortized Trusts, or are those the same thing?
Neither. "Cat" here refers to the small domesticated mammals, commonly kept as house pets. People often become nervous about tax matters and the legal status of their pets.
What if I have already paid taxes for my cat this year?
The IRS treats that as a voluntary contribution to the general tax fund. They may have sent an amusing receipt, but neither the form you sent, nor the certificate you received has any official standing.
To be safe, these sorts of contributions should be made using something which cannot possibly be confused with a legitimate tax form. For example, a fake form in Comic Sans, clearly marked as being for "My pet cat, GreyBoots" and ether a blank or nonsense SSN.
My cats are filing as Married. What documentation do I need?
None. Cat weddings are for entertainment purposes, and are not recognized as legal marriages.
How do I report income for a police cat?
This is a common misunderstanding -- cats and dogs cannot be police officers.
Local news channels often incorrectly claim that police dogs legally count as police officers. They are mangling the Federal Law Enforcement Animal Protection Act, which makes harming a police dog a more serious crime than simple animal cruelty. Nowhere does the law question their status as animals. It also specifically applies to dogs and horses - not to cats.