Blog: Connecticut legislature launches veterinary sales tax effort
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.