Blog: Connecticut legislature launches veterinary sales tax effort

Blog: Connecticut legislature launches veterinary sales tax effort

Veterinarians', pet owners' input needed before June 3 session close date.
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May 18, 2015

Many state legislatures are winding down for 2015, but Connecticut threw a curve ball at the veterinary profession and pet owners as it barrels toward a June 3 end date. On April 30, the Connecticut Joint Committee on Finance, Revenue and Bonding surprised everyone and dropped a veterinary services sales tax in to a nondescript government-financing bill (S.B. 946), which would effectively add 6.35 percent to every pet owner’s bill for services in the Nutmeg State.

This surprise was designed to solve a political problem in a tax-heavy state by lowering certain taxes while adding a long list of professional and consumer services to the tax rolls. Other professions such as accounting jumped into the fray, but no group has engaged more effectively and rapidly than veterinarians. The Connecticut VMA organized a broad grassroots response initiative and, most importantly, showed up in droves at a May 11 hearing to challenge the tax.

At a time when many pet owners struggle to meet their pets’ medical needs and more and more Americans are discovering the value and joy of pet ownership, it does not make sense to tax pet healthcare when a long list of other services and products goes untouched. If you are reading this blog in Connecticut, please get involved, and if you are in a neighboring state and perhaps have a Connecticut friend with a pet or a veterinarian, drop him or her a request to get engaged. Each email and phone call to a Connecticut legislator counts.

California, Georgia, Ohio and Minnesota recently resisted efforts to impose sales taxes on veterinary visits, and Connecticut should take heed. As this goes to press, folks on the ground are cautiously optimistic.

 

Mark Cushing, JD, is founding partner of the Animal Policy Group, providing government relations and strategic services for various animal health, veterinary and educational interests. He maintains offices in Portland, Ore., and Washington, D.C., and is a frequent speaker at veterinary conferences.

Connecticut sales tax proposal

Thank you to Attorney Cushing for his informal advice to date, and for helping to publicize what has been going on here. While veterinary medicine is only a small piece of the overall CT sales tax proposal, it will hurt animal owners and animals in several ways. Particularly for working families and others of modest means, a sales tax on veterinary medical care will result in a reduction of care sought, and all the adverse animal welfare and public health consequences that can be expected. With a little luck, a lot more publicity and the ongoing outcry from the public perhaps we will prevail. Wish us luck!

Arnold L. Goldman DVM,MPH
Connecticut VMA - Government Affairs Committee