Senator Chipman introduces legislation to exempt pet medications from sales tax

Posted: May 12, 2023 | Senator Chipman

AUGUSTA — On Tuesday, Senator Ben Chipman, D-Portland, proposed legislation to exempt pet prescription medications from sales tax, bringing down costs for pet owners across the state. LD 1689, “An Act to Exempt Prescription Pet Medications from Sales Tax,” was the subject of a public hearing before the Joint Standing Committee on Taxation.

Senator Ben Chipman

This legislation would add a sales tax exemption for prescribed pet medications. The bill would only apply to sales on medications that are prescribed by a medical professional.

“For many people who own pets, their pets are integral members of their family. Taking care of their health issues is just as important as the medical needs of the rest of the family,” said Senator Chipman. “Unfortunately, ensuring the health of a pet is expensive. Medications for domestic pets are currently subject to Maine’s sales tax, making it more expensive for families to take care of their animals.”

Human medications can be used to treat a long list of conditions in pets including infections, stomach upset, mitral valve disease, allergies, inflammation, pain and hypertension. Both medications for humans and pets must go through a rigorous testing and review process in order to earn approval from the FDA. There are significantly fewer medications made specifically for pets in mind, but there are countless medications designed for humans.

“This issue came to my attention when I noticed that several of the medications prescribed to one of my dogs for mitral valve disease are the same as those prescribed to humans,” said John Hennessey, Director of Public Policy of Episcopal Maine. “Yes, the dosages are different, but the medication is essentially the same. So, if I needed the same medication the prescription would not be subject to Maine sales tax, but it is for the dog. We are spending about $200/month to help keep Finnegan healthy so a sales tax exemption would add up quickly.”

In 2020, expenditures on pets nationwide totaled about $99 billion. That number grew to $136 billion in 2022. These numbers represent all expenses, including spending on medications.

LD 1689 faces further action in committee.