Monday, January 21, 2008

Sales Tax on Legal Services

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives is again considering the expansion of the state's sales tax to include legal services. The measure is intended to provide property tax reform but shifts the tax from real property to goods and services. I'm writing my state representative urging a vote against any measure that expands the sales tax to legal services.

A tax on legal services is a tax upon the fundamental and constitutional right of citizens to have access to the justice system. The assertion of or defense of legal rights, whether in criminal or civil court, should not be taxed. The courts are a primary function of government, and indeed, the judiciary is one of our three branches of government. Effective representation requires legal counsel, people or businesses don't choose to use a lawyer as an elective measure any more than they choose to perform their own root canal or set their own broken leg. A sales tax on legal services places an undue and unfair burden upon the legal system. The very nature of the courts and access to the justice system is unique. It must be treated as such.

As I said, I've written to my representative and I am urging not only my fellow lawyers, but also my clients to voice their concerns with this proposed legislation. It doesn't just affect lawyers, this tax affects us all. Who knows when they will need legal services?

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