The state legislature has introduced a bill that could see a ‘pet tax’ imposed on every non-livestock animal in the state.
The bill, HB24-1163, sponsored by Democrat Regina English, requires all pet owners to register their animals in a state-run system, with fees that critics are calling exorbitant and unnecessary.
Draconian Measures Disguised as Welfare
The proposed Pet Animal Registration System under the ‘Pet Animal Registration Act’ stipulates annual registration for pets, with a sliding scale of fees that seems to punish those without the means to pay.
At $8.50 for pets with a designated caregiver, $16 for unneutered or unspayed pets with a caregiver, and a hefty $25 for pets without a caregiver, the financial burden could be significant for multi-pet households, not to mention breeders and sellers who may face the tax for each animal over six months old in their care.
This fee structure applies to a broad spectrum of animals, ranging from dogs and cats to reptiles, amphibians, fish, and even invertebrates, leaving no pet owner untouched.
Consider the financial burden on a family with a diverse array of pets: 100 aquarium fish could cost the owner up to $2,500 annually without designated caregivers, according to US Ark.
A menagerie of 20 assorted pets, including a dog, cat, hamster, and several reptiles and fish, could see annual taxes ranging from $170 to $500. Even a child’s ant farm is not exempt from this sweeping legislation, potentially introducing a significant financial strain for something as simple as keeping an ant farm, the outlet added.
The Department of Agriculture is tasked with creating and maintaining an “online pet animal registration system,” with stiff penalties for non-compliance, including fines up to $100 per unregistered animal. This could mean that an unaware pet owner with unregistered aquarium fish could face fines up to $10,000.
The bill’s intent is to connect pets with their owners or designated caregivers during emergencies, and while this goal may seem laudable, the method — a tax — has been met with skepticism.
The state’s overreach into private lives with this registration system has pet owners questioning the true motives behind the bill. The additional financial burden may discourage potential pet owners from adopting animals in need, potentially creating greater strain on animal shelters.
With the hearing set for February 22 at the State Capitol, opponents of the bill are gearing up for a battle. They argue that this bill is a thinly veiled attempt at revenue collection rather than a genuine effort to improve animal welfare.
By imposing this ‘pet tax,’ Colorado is setting a precedent that animal companionship is a luxury afforded only to those willing to pay for government surveillance of their furry friends.
Read the bill summary:
The bill requires the commissioner of the department of agriculture (commissioner) to develop, implement, and maintain an online pet animal registration system (system).
The bill establishes the pet animal registration enterprise (enterprise) in the department of agriculture to provide business services to pet animal owners who pay pet registration fees to the enterprise by developing, implementing, maintaining, and administering the pet animal registration system, connecting pet animals with their owners and designated caregivers when and after emergencies occur, and protecting pet animals by supporting animal shelters that are caretakers of last resort.
A pet animal owner must register the pet animal in the system annually for a fee set by the enterprise, which must be no more than $8.50 annually per pet animal with a designated caregiver, $16 annually per pet animal that is a dog or cat that is not neutered or spayed and has a designated caregiver, and $25 annually per pet animal without a designated caregiver. The fee set by the enterprise is in addition to any pet registration or licensing fee assessed by any other jurisdiction. The enterprise will collect both state and local fees and transmit any fee levied by another jurisdiction to that jurisdiction and the fee levied by the state to the newly created pet animal registration cash fund. The state’s fee will be used to develop, implement, maintain, and administer the system and reimburse animal shelters for the cost of taking custody of a pet animal for which a caregiver cannot be located or has refused to take custody.
The bill also requires a pet animal owner to designate a caregiver for the owner’s pet animal. The caregiver is responsible for the care and safekeeping of the pet animal during an emergency that incapacitates the pet animal owner. First responders will use the system to identify the designated caregiver of the pet animal and notify the caregiver of the incapacitation of the pet animal’s owner. A caregiver must agree to be responsible for the pet animal. If a caregiver later refuses to take custody of the pet animal or cannot be located, a first responder will place the pet animal in an animal shelter. Only first responders and the department of public health and environment are allowed to use the system.
The bill specifies that to own a pet animal without registering the pet animal; to refuse or fail to comply with the provisions of the bill; to make a material misstatement in a registration application, a registration renewal application, or to the department of agriculture; or to refuse or fail to comply with any rules or regulations adopted by the commissioner is unlawful. An unlawful act is punishable by a civil penalty in an amount set by the commissioner but not to exceed $100 per unlawful act. If the commissioner is unable to collect the civil penalty, the commissioner may sue to recover the civil penalty or refuse to renew a registration.
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