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Mayoral candidates come out swinging against tech tax

Suffolk County DA and Boston mayoral candidate Dan Conley has promised to support a coalition of business owners fighting the tech tax.
Suffolk County DA and Boston mayoral candidate Dan Conley has promised to support a coalition of business owners fighting the tech tax.Credit: Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff

Several Boston mayoral candidates have come out strongly against the new 6.25 percent tax on computer and software services, which was passed in July as part of a transportation funding bill.

“We are making a big mistake,” said City Councilor John Connolly during a talk at the offices of MassChallenge last week.

He thanked the more than 50 businesses represented at the event on his campaign’s Facebook page, writing that he hoped to continue the conversation and “be a Mayor who will champion the innovation economy.”

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Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley also said that the tax would do more harm than good and promised to back the coalition of business leaders working to fight it.

“If I’m elected mayor, I’m going to support the ballot initiative to appeal it,” he said in an interview.

Conley said he’s especially concerned that the bill’s structure leaves small businesses open to being taxed multiple times, which business leaders say could stifle innovation.

“Pyramiding taxation of business-to-business transactions is the most perplexing part,” Conley said. “It goes too far.”

Conley said that the bill must be revisited quickly in order to maintain a climate that supports startups and entrepreneurs.

City Councilor Mike Ross also expressed concern that the tax would lead entrepreneurs to think twice before setting up shop in Boston.

“While funding public transportation is critical, this tax has the potential to harm the core of our technology industry and will chase business away from our region,” he wrote in a statement. “At a time when we are trying to build an innovation economy, we now have the highest tax on computer and software services in the country.”

All three candidates pointed out that startup companies in Boston already struggle financially, especially when it comes to finding affordable office space and housing for employees.

“It’s a sector of our economy that really needs to be supported,” Conley said.

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