Rhode Island barking up wrong tree with pet tax

To the editor:

Attention Rhode Island pet owners. You need to be aware that the Pet Service Tax law encompasses all pet services (except veterinary) performed on all pet; dogs, cats, horses, ferrets, reptiles, birds, fish etc.

The law is written as follows: Rule 5 Definitions: “Pet care services (except veterinary and testing laboratories service) means establishments engaged in providing pet care services (except veterinary and testing laboratories services) including, but not limited to, boarding, grooming, sitting and training pets.”

This sneaky law is vague, vast and unconstitutional because Rhode Island is a non-taxable service state. It is illegal to tax a service in Rhode Island.

Furthermore, it is a penalty tax! Pet owners will be penalized for taking care of their pets. And professional pet service providers will be penalized for helping to keep your pet comfortable, healthy, well socialized and safe when you go away.

My fear is that the law invites neglect. How horrible. Pet professionals have seen more than their share of neglected pets due to monetary constraints. It is positively heartbreaking. Isn’t there a vein of compassion in these lawmakers?

Revenue will again be lost to our dangerously close neighbor Massachusetts. This is the ultimate blow (and a most unwise political move as Rhode Island is filled with pet-owning registered voters) to some of the hardest working, compassionate people in the workforce.

No service should ever be taxed or singled out. But there is a much bigger picture here. If they get away with this, it is the beginning of taxing other services/labor. When will it end?

So utterly shameful and pathetic for our lawmakers to attack the working poor. Anyone in the pet service industry is not in it for monetary gain. We chose this profession because, simply put, we love helping animals. So utterly out-of touch are they that $10.4 million is the revenue they believe will be generated by said tax. Hilarious. The teensy bit of revenue that they will get on any given day will just about compensate the wages for the new state worker that will be hired to monitor said tax.

Pet owners who are aware of this law are furious with Rhode Island lawmakers. Online protests are over a thousand. Petitions are an inch thick and growing.

What can you do? First go online and find out which politicians voted for this tax (2012 budget) and do not vote for them in the fall. It is evident that they do not care about your pet, your wallet or small businesses (or the bridge toll).

I agree that the state deficit needs to be addressed but more tax equals less revenue. Their method is backwards and it doesn’t work. Obviously. Lower our state sales tax and watch the revenue flow back into Rhode Island. The trickle of revenue loss to Massachusetts has turned into a surge. Who doesn’t buy their gas in Massachusetts? Liquor? Cigarettes? Long lines used to form at Rhode Island stores when the taxes were lower. Now those stores are struggling or closed. Any one (now closed) convenience store used to generate approximately $200,000 in annual revenue to the state for cigarettes and gas alone. People used to come over the border to our side. Stop the “tax ax” that keeps chipping away at the foundation of Rhode Island. We are crumbling down.

Part of the reason Rhode Island has this growing, festering deficit is excessive taxing. How many businesses have left? How many have closed? How many won’t even consider coming here with the tax monster looming over them?

This tax is a death blow to Rhode Island’s very small pet industry. It is not worth the damage it will most certainly cause. Please hand write a letter to our governor and express your outrage to have this removed in January. We need all the support we can get.

Anne Dupere

Tiverton

Ms. Dupere owns Sakonnet Grooming and Pet Wellness.

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