No Joke: What's the Difference Between a Divorce and a Tatoo?
As Michigan lawyers go about the work of convincing our state legislators that a tax on legal services would be a fundamental and costly mistake, we face the same response again and again: "if we exempt one service we have to exempt them all." In Georgia, policymakers are also gearing up for a tax on services, and a recent white paper from Georgia's venerable Tax Foundation asks: "Can anyone really keep a straight face while justifying a tax exemption for legal services, tattoos, haircuts, car repair,health club memberships and other common services?" Well, we can. In fact, we wonder how serious policymakers can keep a straight face equating legal services with personal grooming and adornment services.Bottom line: government shouldn't tax behavior that is good for society. We're all better off when people get the legal advice they need to secure justice or comply with the law. Tatoos, not so much.
The original SBM Blog post, above, referenced a related post on the same subject, which is reproduced here for our readers convenient reference:
Unfair, Unwieldy, Unwise, Unethical, and Unconstitutional
The prospect of a Michigan tax on services that extends beyond the 26 services already taxed to include legal services is a growing threat, with a group of business leaders actively pushing the idea, legislation already introduced, and the Governor endorsing a services tax. The State Bar has successfully lobbied in the past against taxing legal services, arguing that a tax on legal services is unfair, unwieldy, unethical, unconstitutional, and, ultimately, unsuccessful. The constitutional problems with a tax on legal services are magnified when legal services to businesses are excluded, as is the case with several of the current proposals. See HB 5527, 5528, and 5529. If you haven’t expressed concern about a tax on legal services to your legislator, now’s the time. Here’s how to connect. Here’s the State Bar’s position.
Here's a quick rundown of the arguments. A tax on legal services is...
Unfair – Most legal services are rendered in circumstances of crisis, stress, or misfortune. People who seek legal assistance in cases involving child support payments, child custody, divorce, death, domestic abuse, end-of-life decisions, or bankruptcy seek them out of necessity, not choice. For this reason, a tax on legal services is aptly labeled a "misery tax".