Legislation recently introduced by Representative Ron Kind looks to help address veterinarian shortages nationwide. He said the bipartisan Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act would lift the overly burdensome taxes on programs that encourage veterinarians to practice in rural communities. The Wisconsin Democrat said access to veterinarians in rural areas is critical.
“My legislation, introduced in a bipartisan basis, will fill those gaps, create incentives to be able to recruit and retain good veterinary care in rural areas that are facing shortages right now. This is crucial for production agriculture, the livestock industry, for families and the pets that they have in rural areas, too. And this is one way through loan forgiveness and other grants to create those incentives to bring them into those hard-pressed areas and address the shortfall.”
Kind said the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program is subject to a 37% federal withholding tax, which he noted limits the number of awards for qualifying veterinarians.
“Sometimes it’s treated as income and loan forgiveness would also be treated as reportable income. We’re eliminating that provision. It makes no sense to provide some relief only to tax them on the backend. So, my legislation would correct that, as well as providing more student loan relief for veterinarians that are starting their career’s and would like to serve in these areas.”
The bill was co-sponsored by Republican Representatives Adrian Smith of Nebraska and Dusty Johnson of South Dakota, along with Oregon Democrat Kurt Schrader.
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