Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Lawyers Oppose Senate Sales Tax Exemption Plan

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Lawyers Oppose Senate Sales Tax Exemption Plan

Article excerpt

Oklahoma City Mayor Andy Coats and other local lawyers on Monday objected to the Senate tax plan's proposal to end the state sales tax exempt ions for all personal services except medical and dental fees.

Coats, who is a partner in the downtown law firm of Crowe & Dunlevy, said:

"If they're going to take the sales tax exemption off personal services, they ought to take it off all services."

Jack Burns, lobbyist for the Oklahoma Trial Lawyers Association, agreed with Coats.

"You can bet I'm going to find out why doctors and dentists have been exempted," Burns said.

"We don't mind doing what we have to do to help the state out, but let's be fair about it," Burns said.

Mark Schwartz, an Oklahoma City attorney in solo private practice, said of the plan:

"It's ridiculous! This will create a hardship on the average wage earner. Legal fees will have to go up because lawyers won't be able to absorb the cost."

If the Senate's plan to raise the state sales tax to 7.5 cents becomes law, Oklahoma City residents could end up paying 9.5 cents on the dollar for professional services, including a lawyer's or accountant's advice.

That would add $95 in state and local sales tax to a $1,000 attorney's fee, Schwartz pointed out.

The Senate's tax plan would leave sales tax exemptions alone for advertising and farming, Senate President Pro Tem Rodger Randle said Monday.

Mayor Coats said he favors a total repeal of all exemptions from state sales tax.

"If they take all the exemptions off, it would also raise the city's revenue base, and that would help Oklahoma City," Coats said.

Coats said he has discussed the Senate tax plan with Randle.

The Senate leader toured the state last Thursday to brief Oklahoma City and Tulsa chamber of commerce members on the proposal.

"We'll certainly be discussing a resolution today, to support the plan, at the City Council meeting, although we may not be able to take action on it because of the Open Meeting Act," Coats said. …

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