In the past, policy makers have floated the option of raising revenues by expanding our state’s sales tax to professional services, including legal, accounting, and real estate brokerage services.
As with all sales taxes, the tax must be paid by the person who is purchasing the item or service. A sales tax on legal services would not be a tax on lawyers. Rather, it would be a tax on consumers of legal services, including the elderly addressing their personal and financial needs, young families buying their first home, and entrepreneurs incorporating a new business.
The State Bar of Wisconsin objects to any proposal to expand the state sales tax to include legal and other professional services.
Increasing taxes on legal services further increases legal fees and decreases low-income and moderate-income individuals’ access to justice. A sales tax on legal services falls hardest on consumers who can least afford to pay, making it even more difficult for Wisconsin residents to get the legal help they need. Clients who seek legal advice on divorce, bankruptcy, child support, or probating the estate of a loved one would have to worry about paying more to resolve such hardships.
Of greater concern is that this expanded tax would tax those using the courts to seek justice and those exercising their constitutional legal right to be represented when charged with a crime. Isn’t a tax on legal services a tax on our constitutional rights?
The State Bar will vigorously fight any expanded tax, should it be proposed again.
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