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Veterinary tax to help CA budget crisis?

January 2, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
With California facing a huge budget gap, one proposal to bring in new revenue is to tax veterinary care. Many pet owners obviously don't like the idea. And some veterinarians worry it could discourage owners from getting their pets the care they need.Many pet owners still have not heard of the proposed sales tax. Some veterinarians say if it passes it could add up to 9 percent on a vet bill.

Suzanne Peterson's 8-year-old boxer got a tumor removed last year. In 2008, she spent about $4000 on her dog.

Peterson worries what would happen if the proposed state sales tax on vet services passes.

"It would be a lot more difficult on our budget, and our bank account to have to pay more to bring him in," said Peterson.

Governor Schwarzenegger is proposing broadening the sales tax to a number of services including, veterinary care to close an $11.2 billion budget gap.

The California Veterinary Medical Association says the tax would increase the cost of vet care by about 9 percent.

"Everybody you know is feeling the pinch because of the economy. So I think that the sales tax would make it more difficult for people to be able to afford necessary care for their pets," said Dr. Rachele Baker, Yorba Linda Veterinary Hospital.

Animal care experts worry the tax might lead to more pets ending up in shelters. Some vets question why target their services.

"Their proposal is strictly for veterinary services. Why put a sales tax on veterinary services and not on human medical services? So it doesn't make sense that they would tax medicine for animals, but not medicine for people," said Dr. Baker.

In the past the State of California Department of Finance says the proposal was not to single out any particular industry, but to find those where it would be easiest to collect sales tax.

"I don't think that it would help at all, because there is already so many pets and shelters -- especially with the economy the way it is. People are losing their homes. I just think it's going to be more devastating than helpful," said Peterson.


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