The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

October 9, 2012

UPDATED: Low-cost spay-neuter clinics say they pay taxes

(Continued)

Taxes

Jattuso, who volunteers for the North Alabama clinic, said Pitman is trying to suggest publicly and through his position on the board that the nonprofit clinics receive an unfair advantage over private vets.

“The only difference the low-cost spay and neuter clinics have is that we do not pay income tax,” Jattuso said. “That’s because we don’t have an income in the sense of a profit. That is not our purpose. For him (Pitman) to say we have all these advantages is ludicrous.”

She revealed the amounts of some of the taxes the North Alabama clinic has paid so far this year, including:

• $15,509 in federal payroll taxes;

• $2,290 in state payroll taxes;

• $2252 in unemployment taxes;

• Undetermined amount of sales tax and use taxes.

Although she did not have the sales and use tax amounts Monday, she said people are welcome to ask for the tax figures or look at the clinic’s books and see what taxes it pays.”

In the case of the Irondale clinic, Nelson said it collects and remits to the state 10 percent sales tax on anything sold, such as flea medicine. He said the clinic pays 10 percent use tax on items the clinic buys but does not sell, such as veterinary supplies. He said the clinic also pays federal payroll tax, state payroll tax and unemployment tax. The owners of the building pay property tax, he said.

Need

Pitman has questioned the need for the clinics. He previously told The News Courier that most private veterinarians already offer the same low-cost spay and neutering services for low-income residents. However, the low-cost clinics serve not only those with low-incomes but also anyone who wants to use them.

Competition

Jattuso said the clinics are not full-service vets as Pitman contends because the service they offer is “one and done.”

Pet owners can obtain low-cost spaying and neutering at a cost of $35 to $65, as well as immunizations and flea medicine. However, they can only obtain these on the day of surgery. They can’t come back for flea medicine a month later or immunizations a year later.

“They can get it the day of the service but they can’t come back,” Jattuso said.

“If they want to come back in a year and get their pet immunized, we won’t do it,” Nelson said.

Quality of care

Pitman has also said there is a quality of care issue with the clinics, though he has not yet released details of those issues.

Nelson, whose clinic “did really well” in its surprise inspection by the board last October — said quality care has never been a problem and that if it had been, the board would have taken action.

Nelson said board, which was appointed by the Alabama Legislature to ensure quality care and safety, is simply trying to close the clinics because he believes they compete with private vets.

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