Democrats Propose Tax on Veterinarian Visits

Included in the more than $2 billion in revenues proposed by Democrats in the General Assembly is a new sales tax to be imposed at veterinarian offices across Connecticut.

The facilities and physicians that treat household pets and other animals, like golf courses and dry cleaners, have exemptions from charging the sales tax under state law.

"Our biggest concern is that a lot of pets are going go without a lot of missed care. It’s going to fall on the owners who are in this economy already falling on hard times," said Dr. Kristin Haviar, a veterinarian at the Animal Hospital of Rocky Hill.

Haviar worries that some animals could miss important vaccinations for rabies and other ailments, which she says presents a public health risk.

But, according to Connecticut House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, looking at tax proposals for things like veterinarians are easy targets but really small peanuts in the grand scheme of a two-year, nearly $40 billion budget.

“It’s really the bigger picture," said Sharkey, a Democrat from Hamden. "We’re restructuring the tax system to help working families. Lowering property taxes and we’re not asking them to contribute to the cost of this. We’re actually asking them to support this budget because it’s good for working families."

Senate Bill 1 would overhaul the system of property taxes that cities and towns have relied on for decades. Included in the measure is a statewide property tax that would replace local mill rates that residents currently pay. Sharkey and other Democrats contend that the annual savings from that measure alone outweigh what taxpayers will be charged in sales taxes.

"That’s one of the arguments to be made," said Sharkey. "Yup, there will be sales tax imposed on some things that aren’t currently, but compared to the savings that you’re going to get by your car tax dropping by hundreds of dollars per year, in most cases, that’s a trade off I think most tax payers will understand and accept."

Sharkey also pointed out that the proposal includes tax hikes on Connecticut residents making more than $1 million per year.

The General Assembly's Appropriations Committee has already approved a budget that depends on the new revenues.

Republicans in the legislature will hold a meeting Monday at the Capitol for the public to weigh in on the proposed tax and spending increases that have come from Democrats.

House and Senate GOP leaders unveiled their own budget proposal last month that didn't include any tax increases and covered a budget gap by asking for concessions from labor unions that represent state employees.

The budget included more than $1 billion in spending built in from a tax hike that Gov. Dannel Malloy signed into law several years ago.

Malloy has been quoted saying that the tax proposals go "too far" in his mind.

June 3 is the last day of the legislative session which is the deadline to approve a balanced budget.

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