Kentucky should repeal sales tax on animal-welfare groups

Published 4:14 pm Tuesday, January 22, 2019


The Advocate-Messenger

We support state Rep. Daniel Elliott’s proposed legislation to remove sales tax from services provided by nonprofit animal-welfare organizations.

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House Bill 78 would exempt “adoption fees and certain small veterinarian services fees charged by local government animal shelters and nonprofit animal-welfare organizations” from being subject to Kentucky’s 6-percent sales and use tax, according to the Legislative Research Commission.

Pet adoptions and services like spaying and neutering were not taxed previously, but a sales tax expansion bill passed in 2018 led to them now being taxed. The 2018 bill was not intended to apply to nonprofits, but the Kentucky Revenue Cabinet interpreted the law in such a way that it did, Elliott has told us previously.

Fizzy Ramsey, president of the Danville-Boyle County Humane Society Board of Directors, told us last week the sales tax essentially amounts to double taxation because the Boyle County Animal Shelter is already funded by taxpayer dollars.

A 6-percent tax may not seem like much, especially when most of us are so used to paying it on so many other products and services. But the additional accounting and processing required on the back end puts one more government-mandated problem on the plates of nonprofit organizations that already operate with limited budgets and staffs.

You might still adopt a dog or neuter your pet if it’s 6-percent more expensive. But the animal shelter where you found the dog — and the vet who tries to help low-income families afford fixing their pets — lose valuable time following the new law. That’s time that could have been spent fulfilling their worthy missions instead.

There are other nonprofits affected by the 2018 expansion as well, and another bill — House Bill 28 — would work to undo some of the expansion’s other unintended negative consequences. That bill is sponsored by Speaker David Osborne and Elliott has told us he believes it will become law this year.

Right now, Elliott’s bill has been assigned to the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee, which has not yet met to discuss it. We hope it will move forward once it is discussed, perhaps by being rolled in with House Bill 28.

Kentucky is already the worst state in the nation for animal safety, as ranked by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, and we’ve been the worst for years. House Bill 28 certainly would not fix that. But it would roll back a policy change that made things even more difficult.