You knew this was going to happen, right?
A number of the state’s major law firms are trying to scuttle a tax overhaul because they want property tax relief without paying their share of public school costs, former Comptroller John Sharp said Wednesday.
“They want everybody else to pay for it. That’s where the lines are going to be drawn,” Sharp said.
Glen A. Rosenbaum, a Vinson & Elkins partner and spokesman for a coalition of 18 major law firms, said lawyers support the tax reform effort but believe a new business tax proposed by Sharp would prove “excessive and inequitable” for professional service firms.
Rosenbaum said the only option available to law firms and other professional service providers is the compensation deduction, and he called the $300,000 cap a major sticking point. He said law firms in his coalition are ready to pay their share of taxes and for several years have supported “any number of tax alternatives” that included professional firms, including some options rejected by the Legislature last year.
Rosenbaum said Sharp’s proposal would be more acceptable if the compensation cap were raised to $500,000 or $550,000 per employee. He said lawyers wanted to continue to work with the commission to find an alternative.
“What these guys really want is to distribute all their money to their partners and come back with nothing to pay taxes on,” Sharp said.
“There is no way we or the Legislature can justify letting lawyers pay themselves $500,000 before paying any taxes, while they get the same property tax relief everyone else gets,” he added.
As I said before, the only way this works is if everyone agrees that the system really does need to spread the burden around, and that that includes spreading some of it to themselves. Rick Perry has been saying the right things lately about the need for a broader business tax, but his record is not one that inspires trust in his willingness to fight back against the business lobby and its inevitable demand for execptions to be carved out for this group or that. I’ll believe he’s capable of doing that when I see it.
By the way, the article mentions April 17 as the target start date for the next special session. That’s one month from tomorrow, six days after the primary runoffs, and 44 days before the court-imposed June 1 deadline. Such fun it will be.