privilege tax

Kansas City attorney sues over Tennessee professional privilege tax

Kansas City attorney Thomas West is suing the state in Sumner County over what he calls the “arbitrary, capricious, and wholly unreasonable” nature of Tennessee’s annual professional privilege tax. Over the years, the state has dropped the annual fee for 15 professions, but continues to charge the the $400 assessment to people working as lawyers, lobbyists, investment advisers, securities agents, and brokers.

“While the Tennessee legislature’s constitutional authority to ax privileges is virtually unlimited, it is not unbridled,” according to West’s lawsuit. Seventy percent of the revenue from the tax is generated from professionals who live out of state, which the complaint alleges is in violation of the dormant Interstate Commerce Clause.

The case was filed in Sumner County, which a 2021 law set as the venue for civil cases when the plaintiff lives outside the state. Because it is a constitutional challenge, the case will be handled by a panel of judges from each of the state’s three Grand Divisions.


Posts and Opinions about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.