Maryland REALTORS® Successfully Oppose Sales Tax on Services

Maryland REALTORS® Successfully Oppose Sales Tax on Services

July 2024

Searching for a new sustainable revenue source earlier this year, the Maryland House of Delegates floated a bill that would allow a sales tax on services – and Maryland REALTORS® stepped right up to oppose it.  With strategic lobbying and a Call For Action supported by counsel from the REALTOR® Party experts, they got their message across and staved off the ill-advised tax.

Lisa May, Maryland REALTORS®’ Director of Advocacy and Public Policy, explains that while the association had an interest in protecting its members from the threatened tax, more broadly, it was acting on its responsibility to defend housing affordability in the state.  “We are in the midst of a serious housing crisis.  In addition to fundamental real estate services, think of all the services that go into new housing and construction; this would have taxed every one of them, and the increased cost would have been an added burden on consumers, who are already faced with record housing prices.”

This was not the first time there had been an attempt in the Maryland legislature to impose a tax on services.  It had occurred during the 2020 session, and was defeated, thanks to an energetic advocacy effort by the state REALTORS® and their allies.  “We fought back hard with all the tools in our advocacy toolbox, including getting our members onto buses that took them to a big rally outside the Treasury building, with signs to wave,” notes May.  This time, she says, the threat was real, but not quite as fierce, as the House was relatively alone in looking for new revenue.

“We had assurances from the Governor’s office and the Senate that we didn’t have to bring the buses this time because they were not interested in tax increases.  But the numbers were just too tidy:  they were looking at a $3B budget deficit, and this bill was projected to bring in $3B; so, we were still a little nervous,” recalls May.  Consequently, the association didn’t go in hitting quite so hard this time, and didn’t talk about the impact it would have on REALTORS®.  “We kept the focus on how it would hurt the housing markets and Maryland’s aspiring homeowners and renters,” she reports.  In consultation with the REALTOR® Party’s Advocacy Everywhere staff, the team received best-practices training on the platform, and managed their own Call For Action targeting the districts of the state House Ways and Means Committee members.  Launched the day after the committee hearing on the bill, the campaign was maintained over the course of several days, until the committee’s final budget proposal was drafted.

May and her team also engaged in individual advocacy with legislators – and they were not alone: “Accountants, architects, every professional service was there,” she reports.  In fact, upwards of 170 advocacy groups were opposing the tax on services, including the Maryland Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Independent Businesses.  The REALTORS® were able to equip friendly members of the committee with a few pointed questions, helping to cut through all the other ‘niche testimonies.’  The bill was killed in committee.

Even so, the state’s budget challenges remain.  “We bought ourselves some time, but we have to remain on the lookout,” says May.  “We’ll keep seeking solutions and keep steering the legislature away from any revenue path that is detrimental to our members and to housing affordability.  We’re grateful for the REALTOR® Party’s guidance and support as we go!”

To learn more about how Maryland REALTORS® successfully opposed a state tax on services, contact Lisa May, Director of Advocacy and Public Policy, at or 571.228.7385.

Post a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.