Q: Should practice owners have to comply by the same pet care discount policies as their employees?
A: According to Lorraine List, CPA, CVA, with Summit Veterinary Advisors, if practice policy is that employees are expected to receive and pay invoices (although discounted by 20 percent) when their pets receive care or they buy products at cost, then it sets a bad example if the rules don’t apply to practice owners.
Of course, practice owners are responsible for the payment of all the practice’s expenses, but if we follow that logic through, then the practice owner should be able to take anything in the clinic and walk out the door with it because he or she bought and paid for it. That's a slippery slope. If there is no invoice or accounting for the stuff the owners take, it's pretty tempting for staff members to do the same. And we call that employee theft.
Also, if there was never an invoice created, then the services were never recorded as income and the practice looks less profitable than it actually was. In the end, that hurts the owner since the value of the practice would be lower. And, of course, the IRS puts limits on employee discounts—including owners—because it wants the value represented by the other 80 percent (the non-discounted portion) of the services to be taxable.