Message to members: OSBA opposes extension of Ohio sales tax to legal services

The Ohio State Bar Association Board of Governors voted unanimously to oppose the expansion of the sales tax to legal services and advocate before the Ohio General Assembly to defeat passage of this portion of the budget proposal. A compelling reason for this decision was the board’s agreement that imposing a sales tax on legal services is inappropriate tax policy because it will unnecessarily burden Ohio consumers and impede access to the legal system. 

Ohioans deserve access to competent legal counsel without the added burden of paying a sales tax on these essential legal services when families tackle the complexities of an adoption or divorce, widows and children deal with legal intricacies of administering the estate of a loved one, home buyers of all ages face what for many is the most significant investment they will make, and when small- and medium-sized business confront a dispute over a contract or consider growth and expansion.

The expansion of the sales tax to legal services will increase the cost of doing business in Ohio versus other states that do not tax legal services. Taxing legal services puts Ohio businesses at a competitive disadvantage and could force Ohio clients to move their legal business to a jurisdiction without similar tax burdens.

From a constitutional perspective, the imposition of a sales tax on legal services to a person accused of a crime could constitute an unconstitutional burden on the right to counsel as set forth in the U.S. Constitution and the Ohio Constitution.

Further, the Ohio legal community believes that administering this tax is fatally flawed, as it jeopardizes attorney-client privileges, raises a host of technical concerns and unreasonably burdens Ohio consumers and legal practitioners.

The OSBA thanks its members for providing comments on the sales tax proposal. Their overwhelming opposition to these provisions because of the impact on their clients and their practices served as the foundation for the Association’s decision to take its position against imposing sales taxes on legal services. 

We will work with others in the Ohio legal community, including the Ohio Association for Justice, the Ohio Association of Civil Trial Attorneys and the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, who have adopted positions consistent with that of the OSBA opposing a sales tax on legal services.  

On behalf of the lawyers of Ohio and the clients they serve, the OSBA opposes the imposition of the Ohio sales tax on legal services because it jeopardizes access to the very legal services that are essential to every Ohio citizen and every Ohio business.

Click here for testimony before the House Ways and Means Subcommittee presented by William K. Weisenberg.




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