Illinois Bar Journal

February 2016Volume 104Number 2Page 10

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President's Page

Tax on Legal Services Ahead? Help LAWPAC Help Lawyers

Umberto S. Davi

This will be an important year in Springfield, and LAWPAC needs your help more than ever.

It's more important than ever that you do your part to give lawyers a strong voice in Springfield to protect our clients from being taxed for exercising their rights to the courthouse.

Gov. Rauner's 2014 campaign advocated for a service tax that included a tax on legal services. This part of his plan accounted for one-quarter of the $577 million that was estimated to be generated by this tax. (See LawPulse on page 14 for more.)

Lawyers need a strong voice in Springfield because, as lawmakers struggle to resolve the budget crisis, taxing legal services will be an option - a misguided one that most experts reject, but an option nonetheless. ISBA created LAWPAC (the Illinois Lawyers' Political Action Committee) nearly four decades ago to be a voice for our profession. I hope you will join me in supporting LAWPAC so our voice can be heard above the din.

Realtors raise 10 times our total

In this era of big donors, LAWPAC is very much a grassroots effort. And in an era of sharp partisanship, LAWPAC is governed by a bipartisan board evenly split between Republicans and Democrats. LAWPAC's bylaws prohibit it from contributing to any candidate or committee other than for state senator or representative. LAWPAC doesn't contribute to statewide elections or federal candidates.

LAWPAC is funded by ISBA members who volunteer to add a $25 contribution to their annual dues statement. About a sixth of our membership does so, and we're grateful to all who help.

Even so, the amounts raised by this $25 voluntary contribution are dwarfed by those raised by other associations. For example, realtors raise 10 times more than the $50,000-$60,000 we do. Dentists raise seven times more. And despite being one-fifth our size, the Iowa State Bar Association takes in more for its PAC, using $50 contributions. The Pennsylvania Bar Association raises twice as much as we do.

The need is urgent

We must work with other professional associations to ensure that the General Assembly does not impose a tax on professional services; citizens shouldn't be penalized for exercising their rights under law. We must ensure that nonlawyers do not intrude on the court's authority to regulate lawyers and the practice of law. The General Assembly files thousands of bills every year, and we must be prepared to respond. We must be ready and able to support candidates who will stand up for our profession and the justice system.

I ask that you consider contributing to LAWPAC and, if possible, giving more than $25 to help us be heard. Please send your check payable to LAWPAC, at 424 South Second Street, Springfield, IL 62701 or give online by credit card at*

As diverse as we are, I can't guarantee that LAWPAC will always support candidates that you individually support in 118 State House districts and 59 State Senate districts. But we must put ourselves in a better position to help candidates who stand up for our legal system. Many thanks for all you do to help us participate in Springfield.

* Please note that contributions or gifts to LAWPAC are not tax deductible. A copy of our report filed with the State Board of Elections is (or will be) available from the State Board of Elections in Springfield.

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