Are there consequences to being an unlicensed pet groomer? And, do they pay for training?
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What’s the difference between a dog groomer and a barber? Barbers and groomers can legally charge for their services in many states, including New York and Illinois. But not dog walkers. “Licensed dog walkers’ services are considered service and are subject to the same tax,” said New York City Law Department spokeswoman Tanya Lujan. “Dog walkers pay property taxes, but not for a haircut, but for food and supplies.” In cities like Chicago and New York, where tax forms vary from one county to the other, that means you don’t know for sure which city you’ll need to consult to figure out if your services are taxable.
New York has some of the most restrictive regulations on dog walkers in the nation, making this a tough industry to make a living in. Some of the reasons are common sense; city regulations can impede the growth of a budding industry. Others are downright frivolous, said Laura Martin, owner of Paws’N’Walk, Chicago. “You need to think about a business idea in a certain way, and that makes it very easy for the city to shut you down,” Martin told us. In some cases, cities won’t even allow for the establishment of an app or website that enables potential clients to check taxes and fees, as long as they provide the proper registration information. (Here are some places to find that information.) Also dangerous, some cities ban or even fine anyone who refuses to pay a tax. Others, like the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, say it’s illegal (see “Dogs Listed”) because it conflicts with municipal ordinances.
“Even if they are not aware of the tax they have paid, that can prevent an established business from growing because they’re not selling that product,” Martin added.
Another complication: It’s almost impossible to make deductions for the tax costs of a service. For instance, a dog groomer may be required to pay for the labor (although she could choose not to) but she’s still not allowed to deduct rent (unless she’s on a lease). “Even if he does not deduct those costs, he certainly could try to do a deduction for rent if it’s a long-term tenant, but a lot of the time landlords are reluctant to do that,” Martin said. “Unless there’s a tax provision against it, you can’t deduct for your
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