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April 16, 2008



That Maryland tech tax is dead! And for the Tech Council of Maryland, which fought it in hand-to-hand combat these last few months, that means: a good old-fashioned par-tay Thursday night. See, it's a happy time for the Maryland techies as the dreaded six percent levy on all computer related services (i.e. every business that purchases a computer) was repealed last week just three months before it was scheduled to become law. "It would have been devastating to Maryland's economy," TCM head Julie Coons told us at her Rockville office this week.


Showing us one of her picket signs, Coons and the TCM started a grassroots campaign to repeal the tax last November after it was hastily added to the state's budget during a special legislative session. The tax was expected to bring $1 billion to the state over five years, but Coons and company argued it would hurt local businesses and dissuade national companies, such as Best Buy who joined the picket lines in Annapolis, from doing business. "There are many companies that would have gone out of business or moved," Coons says. "We would not only lose tech workers, but the support staff and all the rest that went with them."


TCM mobilized the state's 200,000 tech workers to lobby state legislators for repeal. "Early on the legislators realized the mess they made," Coons told us, and felt guilty for putting the tax in the budget so quickly that techies never got to argue their case. They worked to find money-raising alternatives, and ended up creating a new income tax bracket for individuals earning more than $1 million annually, and cutting certain transportation funding.


The man above took his own picket sign to the State House in February to fight the tax. Coons says techies flooded offices there with phone calls and emails, along with rallies in Annapolis. Coons and her team also went into State Circle to ambush legislators and persuade them in person. Governor Martin O'Malley signed SB46 on April 8, repealing the tax. "We are really tired," Coons said, "but it is a good kind of tired." So now the group is going to party the night away at their headquarters Thursday. The price to get in? Free.  They're tired of taxes!

David Stegon is Bisnow's tech guru. He loves to hear compliments, complaints (not really), and story ideas, so call him with any of the above at 703-674-7718 or shoot an email to David@Bisnow.com



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