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Staff are reimbursed for a number of travel-related expenses and may
qualify for reimbursement for family dependent care, yet I recently learned
staff members required to travel for extended periods of time cannot be
reimbursed for dependent pet care. For some, the only option is to board a
dependent pet while working away from home, yet there appears to be no
means for even partial reimbursement of these costs. For many, pets are
their family and this does not seem equitable.
Answered on January 14, 2005
You are correct in your view that many employees consider their pets as an
integral part of the family, and therefore as "dependents." For purposes of
administering benefit policies and travel reimbursement policies, UCAR
stands by the Internal Revenue Service's definition of a dependent, which
states, "A person, other than the taxpayer or the taxpayer's spouse, for
whom an exemption (defined later) can be claimed. You can generally claim
an exemption for a dependent if the dependent:
1. Lives with or is related to you,
2. Is a U.S. citizen, a U.S. resident, or a resident of Canada or Mexico,
3. Does not file a joint return,
4. Does not have $3,100 or more of gross (total) income (does not apply to
your child if under age 19 or a student under age 24), and
5. Is supported (generally more than 50%) by you."
UCAR provides benefits only to those persons falling within this
definition. Unfortunately, pets are not covered within the IRS definition
and thus are not covered under UCAR's benefit or travel reimbursement policies.
For possible assistance in locating suitable short- or long-term boarding
facilities, call Work-Life-Options at
1-888-610-2273. This benefit is available to all employees.
–Laurie Carr, Benefits Manager, Human Resources