María Vázquez in her clinic in Ronda. / V. Melgar

Vets in Spain say the sector's IVA tax rate is 'outrageous' and unaffordable for many pet owners

Veterinarians want the rate of sales tax to be reduced and demand to be treated more like the health sector where no IVA is applied

VANESSA MELGAR Ronda

Vets in Spain are calling for the rate of value added tax (IVA) they have to charge to be reduced, because they say 21% is unaffordable for many pet owners. The veterinary sector, which also includes assistants, biologists and pharmacists, is concerned about rising prices due to inflation and Juan Antonio de Luque, the president of the Official College of Veterinarians in Malaga, has said that in addition IVA is a big problem.

“We are talking about animal health. Having to charge 21% is ridiculous when no IVA is applied for human health,” he said. “If we have to perform a caesarean section on a pregnant dog who can’t give birth naturally, or operate on one that has broken its leg, people can’t pay 21% IVA”. He also pointed out that the IVA applied to services on farms and similar is only 10%.

Jesús Antonio Gutiérrez, vice-president of the Spanish Veterinary Business Confederation, said that initially the sector did not pass the increase in IVA to clients but had no choice in the end because the numbers did not add up. Now, he pointed out, vets are trying to maintain their prices and not increase them despite rising inflation, but it is difficult.

“We’re not asking for IVA to be abolished altogether but we do want a much lower rate because if people aren’t able to look after their pets it increases the possibility of illnesses spreading. For us it is not a question of money but a matter of public health. The health of animals is the health of people, they are linked,” he said.

A life is not a luxury

María Vázquez, who runs Clínica Veterinaria Vázquez in Ronda, said it is outrageous that IVA is so high when it comes to a living, sentient animal. “How can a life be treated as a luxury?” she said.

The vets are also concerned about investment funds buying up veterinary clinics and offering lower cost treatments.

“A treatment costs what it costs; you can’t play games with the health of animals. You can buy cheaper or more expensive accessories, but you can’t skimp when it comes to their health. It would be like setting up a low-cost hospital for people” Vázquez said.