Concerned IT professionals taking part in the Republican Caucus' seventh of eight roundtable discussions taking place across Massachusetts had a clear theme: We want to stay; why won't you make it easy for us to do business and thrive here?
The event, held Thursday afternoon at the Wakefield Savings Bank in Wakefield, Mass., gathered IT professionals and concerned citizens from around the state to inform legislators on how the tech tax is hurting their businesses.
"If we didn't love this state, we would move," said Eryck Bredy, president and CTO of BNMC in Andover, Mass. "I have a mobile business. The fact that I love this state and want to stay here, I feel that I'm being singled out. ... And, for a state that I love, I think that's unfair."
Jim Cotter, managing partner at TIDD Energy, Inc., said his company is already thinking about incorporating in New Hampshire due to the additional sales tax that would add more than $700,000 to an upcoming contract.
"It's taxing the innovation economy, something Massachusetts should be a leader in and has been a leader in," said Sen. Bruce Tarr, who helped lead the discussion at the roundtable along with other Republican leaders and local representatives.
The roundtable didn't draw just concerned IT professionals but also other members of the community who were worried about how the tax was going to affect their own businesses.
"I don't know anyone who sits at their desk who doesn't have thousands of dollars of software in front of them," said Eric Classen, CPA and division director at StateStreet Staffing. "It's everybody."
In addition to individual concerns, many of the attendees were concerned about the effect it would have on the overall state economy.
"Competition is what makes us great," Bredy said. "[The tax] will hurt our product. It will make us much more defensive."
Gerard Leeman, who works in the biotechnology industry, said that after heavy taxes and regulations were imposed on the biotech industry, many companies moved across the border to New Hampshire or decided to spend a lot of money figuring out how to apply the taxes and regulations to their business. He warned that tech might see the same ramifications from the tax.
"Let biotech be a bellwether to what could happen to tech," Leeman said.
All of the legislators in attendance agreed there would be some sort of repeal, but they were not sure through which course, be it ballot petition, legislation or court.
"This idea shouldn't have gotten out of the box," Tarr said. "There is because there was not enough discussion about how to grow the economy."
The legislators asked that those in attendance at the meeting continue to stay vocal about the effect this tax would have on their business as repeal efforts moved forward in the state.
PUBLISHED AUG. 29, 2013