March 8, 2013
The Columbus Bar Opposes the Expansion of Ohio Sales Tax to Legal Services
The Columbus Bar Association Board of Governors today voted to support the Ohio State Bar Association in its efforts to oppose the expansion of the Ohio sales tax to legal services. A compelling reason for this decision was the board’s agreement that imposing a sales tax on legal services is inappropriate tax policy because it will unnecessarily burden Ohio consumers and impede access to the legal system.
When Ohio families tackle the complexities of an adoption or divorce, widows and children deal with the legal intricacies of administering the estate of a loved one, home buyers of all ages face what for many is the most significant investment they will make, and when small- and medium-sized business confront a dispute over a contract or consider growth and expansion, they deserve access to competent legal counsel without the added burden of paying a sales tax on these essential legal services.
The expansion of the sales tax to legal services will increase the cost of doing business in Ohio versus other states that do not tax legal services. Taxing legal services puts Ohio businesses at a competitive disadvantage and could force Ohio clients to move their legal business to a jurisdiction without similar tax burdens.
From a constitutional perspective, the imposition of a sales tax on legal services to a person accused of a crime could constitute an unconstitutional burden on the right to counsel as set forth in the U.S. Constitution and the Ohio Constitution.
Further, the Ohio legal community believes that administering this tax is fatally flawed, as it jeopardizes attorney-client privileges, raises a host of technical concerns and unreasonably burdens Ohio consumers and legal practitioners.
We will work with others in the Ohio legal community, including the Ohio State Bar Association, the Ohio Association for Justice, the Ohio Association of Civil Trial Attorneys and the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, who have adopted similar positions opposing a sales tax on legal services.
How can you help?
We are seeking the assistance of members of the legal community in preventing the expansion of the Ohio sales tax to legal services (as part of House Bill 59). The CBA and other prominent legal organizations in the state have issued statements opposing this tax expansion. Our overriding message is clear: the proposal is inappropriate tax policy that would overly burden our clients and impede access to the legal system, and we are concerned about the administration of the tax and its effect on the practice of law.
Legislators need to hear from members of the legal community and their clients about why this tax proposal should be removed from the budget. To that end, we have included links on this page to talking points and sample letters to key audiences - especially legislators.
Time is of the essence. The sooner and more often our legislators receive our message, the better. Please initiate your own correspondences with your legislators, and ask your clients to assist wherever appropriate.
Please start by clicking the link entitled "instructions," then go on to use the other links to access sample letters, legislative contact information, statements from legal organizations, and additional support materials. Thanks for being an integral part of this effort.