Written By Jeffrey Fish
A group of Republican state representatives, including Jay Barrows of Mansfield, hosted a meeting at Mansfield Town Hall, with a room full of small business owners, to discuss a new state taxes on computer and software services.
Other representatives present were Elizabeth Poirier of North Attleboro, Steven Howitt of Seekonk, and Dan Winslow of Norfolk.
The group of state legislators panned the new taxes as burdensome on businesses in Massachusetts and unclear on what actually gets taxed and what doesn’t.
Many also said they may end up relocating to New Hampshire where they and their customers won’t have to worry about the taxes. Barrows responded that many stores in Massachusetts have “become a showroom” for online retailers with locations in other states.
“What’s so distressing about [the tax] is the day we had the debate, there was no explanation to identify what is being taxed,” said Poirier. “The fact the the DOR (Department of Revenue) determines what will be taxed is unconscionable. We’re the ones that are supposed to make policy.”
Business owners in the room were invited to the microphone to ask questions and air grievances about the law; many of them talked about how the new regulations were burdensome to their businesses and how in many cases they didn’t know when to tax and when not to.
One audience member asked if it would be “possible to put a hold on this thing until we get a definitive guideline.”
Poirier responded that “we put that request in and of course it’s not going to happen. We need to educate people and have them come out and vote,” she said adding that the Republican Party in Massachusetts simply doesn’t have the numbers to overturn the large majority of legislators who voted for the tax.
Winslow encouraged the business community to take the tax to the Superior Court and file for an injunction. “I believe this law is so poorly drafted” that it wouldn’t stand up to the scrutiny of the court. “There are checks and balances for a reason.”
He stressed that the Democratic majority on Beacon Hill “shoved [the tax] down our throats,” ignoring alternative solutions that were offered by the Republicans. “The beauty of a monopoly in Massachusetts is if you’re doing a bad job, or even if you’re doing no job, you can still keep your job,” said Winslow.
“I continue to believe the voice of the public of is so powerful,” said Poirier. “If people all over the commonwealth express their distaste for this” there’s a chance it can be overturned.As the meeting came to a close, Barrows told audience members to hang on: “Don’t leave Massachusetts yet!”