Realtors oppose tax plan

The Ohio Association of Realtors legislative steering and executive committees are unanimously opposed to the governor’s proposed expansion of the sales tax base to services, including those involved in a real estate transaction.

Saying the proposed 5 percent sales tax on real estate services will unduly increase the cost of housing and business throughout the state, the 26,000-member state Realtor Association said it will actively argue that the general assembly oppose the measure that would impose a statewide 5 percent sales tax on real estate services.

Kasich is calling for a reduction of the state portion of the sales tax to 5 percent from 5.5 percent, but would make up some of the revenue shortfall by levying taxes on previously exempted services like professional services, real estate transactions and legal fees.

“The expansion of the sales tax to every service associated with a real estate transaction threatens a fragile but critical sector of the economy, and will place an unnecessary financial burden on Ohio’s property owners,” the organization said in a prepared release. “Our recent gains in homes sold over the past two years and the modest uptick in pricing last year could be derailed by the imposition of a sales tax on every aspect of a housing purchase.”

Those taxed items could include home inspections, appraisers, mortgages, radon inspections, titles, commissions and more.

Predicting the state organization’s position late last month, new Ohio Association of Realtors president Thomas J. Williams of Howland said he expected the agency to come out against the measure.

”Not just in real estate, but the consumer will be greatly affected when you factor in the taxes that are going to be levied on every service provided, you end up paying a lot more than the rollback is going to be,” Williams said.

Rob Nichols, a spokesman for Gov. John Kasich’s office, on Wednesday said the intent of the governor’s proposal is to reduce taxes across the board.

“Why should they (Realtors) enjoy a carveout in the tax law, but the small business that is next door to them making widgets has to pay the tax?” Nichols said. “This is about reducing taxes on small businesses by $1.9 billion. All that is designed to make Ohio more competitive, friendly to job creation and getting the economy moving.”

The Ohio Chamber of Commerce also is expected to take a position on the governor’s entire proposed tax reform package sometime next week, said Dan Navin, assistant vice president of tax and economic policy for the state organization.

Navin said the Chamber’s tax committee is examining potential costs and benefits of the package and discussing the issue with companies that do business in Ohio about the impacts, the tax proposal would have on their operations.