Attorney Elsa W. Smith Testifies in Opposition to HB 1628

On Monday, March 2, 2020, Attorney Smith testified before in the Maryland House of Delegates – Ways and Means Committee against House Bill 1628 expanding the state sales tax to legal services, realtors and accounting services, among other industries. Her impassioned remarks focused on the risk exposure of inadvertently reporting sales taxes and how the proposed sales tax would place her firm and others like it at a competitive disadvantage. Here’s an excerpt from her testimony: “Complying with tax collection guidelines set forth by the Comptroller will require me to invest time in understanding the requirements for myself before hiring anyone to handle this for me. As an attorney, I’m held to a higher standard than most business people. I don’t have the luxury of claiming that I didn’t understand a rule that I am subject to. ”

HB 1628

Pictured left to right: (MSBA Executive Director Victor Velazquez, Attorney Elsa W. Smith, and MSBA President Dana O. Williams)

Attorney Smith continued, “When I have to hire additional help or a person with the expertise to keep the firm in compliance, I have less to reinvest into my firm … The cost of compliance for me will outweigh the tax itself.”

Click Here to listen to Attorney Smith’s Full Testimony (starting at the 5:10:20 mark).

MSBA President Dana Williams voiced strong opposition to the bill on behalf of the bar association’s 24,000 members.  Williams was quoted by Governor Larry Hogan as stating, “The fact that we’ve all come together should be a demonstration to the legislature of how meaningful and negative this bill would be.”


Update to this post: On March 4, 2020, Maryland lawmakers rejected HB 1628.  A victory for businesses and residents of Maryland.