February 19, 2009
Pet Owners Avoid a Tax on Pet Health Care in California's Budget
Taxing Pet and Food Animal Health Care Would Create Hardship for Pet Owners, Increase Pet Abandonment and Public Health Concerns
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The California Veterinary Medical Association and The Humane Society of the United States today thanked Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the California Legislature for responding to the public's opposition to a tax on veterinary care.
The state Legislature passed a 17-month budget that did not include the governor's earlier proposal to broaden the sales and use tax to include veterinary services.
Leaders of the two organizations that work on behalf of animals and those who care for them expressed their appreciation for the final outcome regarding taxation of veterinary services in the budget bill.
"Requiring pet owners to pay a tax to care for their animals is bad public policy," said William Grant, II, DVM, president of the CVMA. "We are pleased members of the 'Big Five,' including the governor, recognized that and the proposed tax was removed from the final budget bill."
"On behalf of our 1.3 million California constituents, we are very grateful to California's leaders for recognizing the financial injury associated with the proposed Fido Fine," said Sacramento-based Jennifer Fearing, chief economist for The HSUS. "This tax would almost certainly have resulted in less medical care for animals and more dogs and cats landing in animal shelters. It was a flawed idea that would've been a step backward in the otherwise progressive trajectory toward more humane treatment of animals in our state."
Thousands of Californians called an automated phone number established by the governor's office to allow residents to express their support or opposition for the governor's proposal to tax veterinary services.
"The opposition of veterinarians, pet owners and concerned citizens was so intense, a special extension was added to the governor's budget voicemail line to handle the opposition to the tax on pets," Grant said. "We believe the overwhelming number of calls delivered an emphatic message to the governor that taxing pet owners would be hugely unpopular and inequitable."
The budget proposal to extend the sales tax to veterinary services could have added up to 10 percent to the cost of caring for animals in California, according to the state Legislative Analyst's office. This would endanger the health and well-being of animals kept as pets, raised on farms, or sheltered by humane agencies.
Agreeing with one of CVMA's arguments against the proposal, the California Legislative Analyst's Office noted the tax on veterinary services "would create inequities in the tax structure by taxing some services while leaving other similar services untaxed."
"We know the fight to protect animal care from taxation is not over," emphasized Grant. "Our membership remains firmly opposed to taxes that will force our clients to make untenable decisions affecting the quality of life for their pets and that might put our food supply at risk. It was wrong last week and it will be wrong next year."
The California Veterinary Medical Association is the largest state veterinary medical association in the United States, with more than 6,000 members. For more information, visit cvma.net.
The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.