Global Business Looks To Leave Massachusetts, Reduce Headcount After Tech Tax Hit


CEO of Bedford, Mass.-based Integrated Computer Solution (ICS) Peter Winston said that his global business is already feeling the hit from the newly implemented Massachusetts tech tax and is looking into alternatives to save money by moving out of state or slowing down hiring practices.

"It's nuts. I can't believe [the legislators are] so insensitive to the small high-tech company," Winston said. "It really is very frustrating."

Winston said that he specifically sought out Massachusetts as the location to start his business in 1987 because of the growing talent pool from the universities and the large amount of businesses in the state. His company now has offices globally, but it is still headquartered in Massachusetts.

 

[Related: New Massachusetts Software Services Tax Highest In Nation]

The Massachusetts software services tax went into effect July 31 and extended the state's 6.25 percent sales tax to services associated with computer software. The tax will be collected for the first time in September but is already causing confusion and anger around the state as solution providers and others are sorting through what the tax means for their bottom line.

While he said the new tax is only one of 100 factors, it adds one more reason why Winston is looking to change his location.

"I have been forecasting my percentage of the business to go down, and I am actively reducing my headcount in Massachusetts," Winston said. Although the company is global, it still does 20 percent of its business in-state.

Winston doesn't expect to lay off employees, but he said that he isn't looking to hire any more employees to replace others leaving and summer interns finishing their terms. ICS employs 100 workers worldwide, 50 of which are located in Massachusetts.

"We're seeing where the wind blows on this," Winston said. "Without the uncertainty, I would be one notch more bullish."

However, his fear is not based on the tax itself, but comes from the uncertainty and liability surrounding the confusion about the tax's implementation. He said his business is now responsible for making sure his customer pays the tax because he is personally liable if it is not paid.

"My main fear is not about the tax -- it's about the hanging liability," Winston said.

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