Utah veterinarians concerned about proposed pet tax

kutv ginna on vet tax 110719 (4).PNG
Utah veterinarians concerned about proposed pet tax (Photo: KUTV)

Utah lawmakers are proposing to tax veterinary services in a new tax reform proposal recently unveiled.

The proposal would add a 4.8% tax to non-emergency services like spaying, neutering, vaccines, dental services, lab tests and exams and preventative care.

“We’re just simply trying to diversify where our funds come from,” House Majority Leader Francis Gibson (R-District 65) said.

The tax would exclude farm animals and emergency procedures, but still, it’s stirring controversy with veterinarians across the state.

“I think the goal of the tax admission is to increase taxes on quote on quote luxury items. What I find concerning is that pets, who we find sort of part of our family, dogs, cats are being considered luxury items,” Willem Becker, veterinarian at Granite Veterinary Specialists in Cottonwood Heights said.

Becker is concerned that the pets he treats will feel the brunt of the proposal if it passes. He said owners may be less likely to take their pets to a vet or get routine preventative care.

“There’s no taxes on dentists. There’s not taxes on your medical bills, but if your pet gets sick that comes out of your pocket,” Becker said.

“If you’re being asked to pay $105 instead of $100, if that $5 prevents you from paying for that service, then that would happen. But my guess is that’s not going to happen,” Gibson added.

But Becker said when it comes to surgery on your pets, often 5% can make a difference. Granite Veterinary Clinic is handing out flyers to pet owners notifying them of the proposal and asking them to contact lawmakers.

Vets with the Utah Veterinarian Medical Association also brought their concerns to lawmakers in a meeting held Thursday night.