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IRS Can No Longer Discriminate Against Extreme Cat Lovers

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Do you love cats? Do you love every kind of cat? Do you want a house full of them? Do you want a house full of so many that it's starting to cost you a pretty penny but the idea of not having the cats to roll around with is too much to bear? Help is on the way.

If you can somehow get your stash of felines through a charity for which you help take care of the cats ("help," as though the pleasure isn't all yours), you can write off most of the expenses associated with tending to your babies. Previously the IRS wasn't gonna let that fly but one woman named Jan, pictured at left, has paved the way.

When Jan Van Dusen appeared before a U.S. Tax Court judge and a team of Internal Revenue Service lawyers more than a year ago, there was more at stake than her tax deduction for taking care of 70 stray cats. Hanging in the balance were millions of dollars in annual tax deductions by animal-rescue volunteers across the nation—and some needed clarity on the treatment of volunteers' unreimbursed expenses for 1.55 million other IRS-recognized charities.

Ms. Van Dusen, 59 years old, is a former family-law attorney living in Oakland, Calif., who lives alone in a 1,500-square-foot home in a modest neighborhood, with seven cats of her own. As a volunteer for Fix Our Ferals, whose mission is to trap stray cats, neuter them and care for them until they can be adopted by owners or released, Ms. Van Dusen provided foster care for about 70 feral cats. Some neighbors approved of her activities, while others didn't. One, she suspects, threw a chunk of concrete through her window.

The Tax Court allowed her to take a charitable deduction for expenses she incurred while taking care of the cats in her home for an IRS-approved charity, Fix Our Ferals. Among the $12,068 in expenses she deducted: food, veterinarian bills, litter, a portion of utility bills, and other items such as paper towels and garbage bags. The decision, in Van Dusen v. Commissioner, paves the way for volunteers of animal-rescue groups like the ASPCA and Humane Society of the U.S. to deduct unreimbursed expenses that further the groups' missions, such as fostering stray animals. Early this month, Ms. Van Dusen learned she had won her case. "I was stunned," she said. "It feels great to have established this precedent."

Stray Cat Strut: Woman Beats IRS [WSJ]

Related: I love cats...I love every kind of cat...I just want to hug all of them but I can't because that's crazy, I can't hug every cat but I just want to, I want to...I want to...anyway, I am a CAT LOVER and...I'm sorry I'm thinking about cats again. I just think about how many don't have a home and how I should have them...and I just love them and I want them and I want them in a basket, in little bowties, on a rainbow, in my bed and I just want a house full of them and I just us to roll around...I can't...I can't.


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