San Diego

California Bill Proposes Tax Credit for High Veterinary Bills

Most people would do just about anything to protect or care for their pets, including spending thousands of dollars on veterinary care.

“People talk about it all the time. Even just taking your dog to the vet is $50,” said San Diegan Jaimie Bougie. “Even if nothing is wrong, it can get expensive.”

Bougie owns two pugs, a breed known to suffer complications with the spine. A few years ago, her 14-year-old pug racked up a $10,000 vet bill.

“She had a spinal disorder that's common in pug, that leaves her spine unstable. So it was causing her to have issues with her back legs,” Bougie said.

Bougie spent thousands to pay for MRI's and eventually spinal surgery.

Proposed legislation in the California Assembly would give dog and cat owners the option of a tax credit for half of “medically necessary” vet bills, totaling up to $2,000 per year. The bills would need to be submitted from a state certified veterinarian to qualify.

Patricia Ungar, DVM runs Kensington Veterinary Hospital. Ungar said she often sees how finances play a role in life or death decisions involving a beloved pet.

It can be heartbreaking for her and her staff as well as the family.

“I think the idea of being able to have some assistance, if the state can figure out the financial side of it, I think it's a great idea,” Ungar said.

AB 942 would allow the tax credit beginning in 2017 until 2023 for those charges not covered by pet insurance. They could include vaccinations, annual checkups, surgeries, and drug prescriptions.

The idea of such a tax credit is not supported by the California Tax Reform Association.

San Diego CPA Thor Eakes explained, “I would imagine off the top of my head half of the households in the state has dogs and cats. that would be a very large expenditure by the state.”

The bill was referred to a second debate in committee in order to determine if it will make its way to the full Assembly for a vote.

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