Last fall in Arizona, a superhero named “PAT” swooped in to town, enlightened the voting public, and saved the day: it was the cartoon personification of the Protect Arizona Taxpayers Act, a ballot measure that prevailed in the state’s November 2018 General Election, resulting in a constitutional amendment to prevent any new sales taxes on services. A REALTOR® Party Issues Mobilization Grant gave PAT a big boost, together with substantial backing from the Arizona REALTORS®’ Issues Mobilization Fund.
It was an issue that spoke right to the heart of the REALTORS®’ mission to protect home ownership, says Nicole LaSlavic, Vice President of Government Affairs for the Arizona Association of REALTORS®. “When a governmental body institutes sales taxes on services, the resulting increase in taxes impacts citizen’s pocketbooks and could ultimately affect their ability to own a home,” she explains, noting that numerous services directly related to the real estate industry were at risk of taxation, including construction, plumbing, lawn care, heating and air conditioning, appraisals and inspections. “It was in the REALTORS®’ best interests to act to prohibit sales taxes on services for once and for all.” While the REALTORS® provided the lion’s share of funding for the campaign, they were joined in the effort by other industry groups representing services such as childcare, certified public accountants, bankers, attorneys, and the healthcare sector.
The comprehensive statewide campaign to ban taxes on services involved REALTOR® members at the grassroots level, collecting signatures to get the measure on the ballot. Following that success, mailers, a website, rounds of live phone calls, and newspaper, radio, and television ads were all developed and put into play. “The biggest response was to the television ads, with the animated superhero, ‘PAT,’ coming to ‘save the day from the evil politicians who want to take your money!’” says LaSlavic. “It really got people’s attention and gave the fairly dry tax issue a colorful and memorable treatment.” The REALTORS® decided to maintain the website as a helpful resource.
The Protect Arizona Taxpayers Act ultimately passed with 64% of the vote, well over the required 50% plus one, but that margin represents a big leap from where prospects stood before the campaign got started. “We conducted polling throughout,” explains LaSlavic, “and while our initial numbers prior to any campaigning were not great, once we began educating voters, the indicators turned right around.”
The Arizona REALTORS® are grateful for the support of the National Association, and LaSlavic notes that she encourages the state’s local associations, large and small, to apply for REALTOR® Party grants of their own when they face issues that could benefit from the support and expertise of the REALTOR® Party. “The team at NAR is very helpful in navigating the application process, so that by the time it goes forward, it’s in the best possible shape.” Regarding the Issues Mobilization Grant that helped secure the passage of the Protect Arizona Taxpayers Act, she says, “Arizona’s more than 50,000 members are very happy – and those who were directly involved are extraordinarily pleased!”
To learn more about how the Arizona Association of REALTORS® has protected the state’s taxpayers from a tax on services, contact Vice President for Government Affairs Nicole LaSlavic at 602-248-7787.