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Local technology companies are making headway in their fight against the Massachusetts tax on software services through the phone lines, in person with the governor, and through an approval by the state attorney general of a ballot initiative to repeal the tax.
A meeting, held privately in Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick's office Wednesday morning, was arranged to discuss the implications of the now month-old tax on software services. The governor declined to meet with reporters waiting outside of the governor's office. Patrick, however, sent a statement about the meeting to CRN that only said the issue and alternatives were discussed and no conclusion was reached.
The meeting was attended by legislative and industry leaders. Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, attended the discussion and said that it was "constructive" but that legislators and the governor did not have any decisive changes of heart.
"I thought it was a productive meeting," Widmer said, however. "I don't think they have decided. ... I think today's meeting helped focus the discussion. I think there will probably intense private discussions in the State House over the next few weeks."
Widmer said the governor maintained the same position he stated publicly last week, primarily that he was concerned about the effect on the innovation economy of the state but was hesitant to repeal the tax without an alternate source of revenue.
Rep. Ryan Fattman, who voted against the tax and is pushing for its repeal, said that the governor's "nonchalant approach" to the issue was damaging to the state economy in the wake of continued high unemployment numbers.
"When business leaders across the state come out and say very adamantly that this tax will have sweeping repercussions and damaging reputation for years to come, you should be alarmed," Fattman said, referring to Patrick's comment to reporters last week that he was "concerned but not alarmed" about the tech tax.