Public opposition has arisen over a Council of Agriculture proposal earlier this month to levy a pet tax to fund the control of stray dogs, with some saying that the tax would lead to a massive wave of pet abandonments.
According to a report by the Chinese-language Apple Daily, the council began polling public opinion of the proposal through an online public policy forum on May 13, with 98 percent of 12,486 netizens voting against the proposal as of Monday.
Online voting, with a comments section available, is to run through Aug. 11.
Animal Husbandry Division Deputy Director Wang Chung-shu (王忠恕) said that during public hearings held by the council to discuss a funding crisis facing the government’s stray-dog control program — with finances expected to worsen once a “zero euthanasia” policy is enacted — some people proposed the creation of a sales tax on pets and pet insurance.
Opponents of the proposal said that the government has failed to regulate pet breeding and animal registration, adding that a tax on pet owners would lead to a new wave of pet abandonment, the Apple Daily report said.
Health insurance for pets should be formulated in response to the proposed pet tax, some netizens were quoted as saying.
Hung Hsueh-ching (洪雪芹), who left a comment on the forum, was quoted as saying: “Why are [people] eligible for tax deductions for giving birth, but have to pay taxes for raising stray dogs for the government?”
Animal Protection Division head Chiang Wen-chuan (江文全) said that the governments of Taipei City, Taoyuan and Tainan have been considering pet taxes — with a tax on dogs a strong favorite — but have acknowledged the potential difficulty of collecting taxes from pet owners, the report said.
More viable means of taxation include taxing pet businesses or a sales tax on pet food, he said.
Wang said that a pet tax should be created with supporting measures that include accurate identification of dogs, pet trade taxes and a tax exemption for people who adopt stray animals.
The council might drop the plan if public sentiment is against it, he added.
Taipei City Government Animal Protection Office Director Yen I-feng (嚴一峰) said that the implementation of a pet tax would not be justifiable without the establishment of pet identification cards, a microchip implantation rate of at least 80 percent, a well-defined tax base and tax reductions for people who care for or adopt animals.
The office has drafted a taxation mechanism to tie pets to pet owners’ household registrations, which is to be announced next month, he said.
Taoyuan Office of Animal Care and Control Director Chen Jen-hsin (陳仁信) said that 90 percent of pets in the city’s animal shelters had been abandoned and a pet tax might be one way to raise the adoption rate, adding that taxation should be handled by the central government.
National Taiwan University professor of veterinary sciences Fei Chang-yung (費昌勇) said that the government has only paid lip service to animal protection, as the rate of dog registration and microchip implantation has remained at between 60 and 70 percent.
There would be no tax justice if the government cannot ensure equitable tax collection, Fei added.
Should a sales tax on pets be imposed, it could lead to a boom in illegal breeding and pet abandonment, because the public would be unwilling to purchase pets via legal breeders, some netizens were quoted as saying.
“I support the [pet] tax, but I hope the government adopts policies favorable to taxpayers, such as tax reduction for animal medical expenses,” a netizen using the name “Dva Peng” said.
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