Different River

”You can never step in the same river twice.” –Heraclitus

March 2, 2005

Tax the Lawyers?

New Jersey has imposed a $75 annual tax (for the next three years only) on lawyers, doctors, dentists, chiropractors and professionals to fund medical malpractice insurance relief. The are also taxing all employers in the state $3 per employee. (I guess this is part of their “send jobs to other states” plan.)

True the form, the lawyers sued. Specifically, the New Jersey State Bar Association sued, claiming that applying this tax to lawyers violated their 14th Amendment right to equal protection. Last week, they were denied a temporary injunction against collecting the tax. (If they win, they can get their $75-$225 refunded.)

Now, my personal opinion is that this tax is silly. It’s not a coherent attempt to solve any real problem, because it will not affect anyone’s behavior with regard to malpractice. For example, every lawyer licensed in New Jersey has to pay, whether they are filing malpractice claims, defending doctors against them, writing wills, closing real estate transactions, fighting speeding tickets, prosecuting criminals, or keeping their license current while staying home with the kids.

Still, there is something poetic about seeing lawyers sue to get out of the $75 tax lots of other people have to pay, on the grounds that for lawyers to pay is “unequal.” ;-)

Better yet, RiskProf asks, “if the litigant does succeed would the winning lawyers get big legal fees and some coupons for the members of the bar?” ;-)

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