Rockville Business Owner Teams up with Rockville Chamber of Commerce to Pass Bill that Protects Local Businesses & Virtual Office Spaces
ROCKVILLE, MD - Local resident, Leslie Keenan, is the proud co-owner of two locations for Intelligent Office, a virtual office franchise concept that creates office solutions to businesses of all sizes by providing on demand office spaces, professional meeting rooms, and a wide range of Intelligent Assistant services including phone answering services, administrative support, and other specialty business services. Since opening her first location in 2003, Leslie has helped hundreds of local Rockville business owners and entrepreneurs grow their success by offering smarter alternatives to optimize customer support, maximize operations, and minimize overhead costs.
As an advocate for local business owners, when Leslie discovered the state had started implementing an additional 6% sales tax by classifying Intelligent Office services as a phone answering service, Leslie felt obligated to challenge the unqualified tax that was based on an antiquated tax code that had been written when phone answering services referred to processes that involved switchboards and operators. Additionally, the tax incorrectly categorized Intelligent Office’s comprehensive services as one facet of the total offering.
“Intelligent Office offers so much more than just answering telephone calls for clients,” states Intelligent Office co-owner, Leslie Keenan. “Our Intelligent Assistants are qualified and trained to act as your personal administrative staff that simply operates from our home location. If this sales tax applies to our services, it has the potential to apply to the 100+ virtual office businesses across the state of Maryland. A tax like this could devastate the state’s ability to compete in the rapidly growing virtual office industry.”
Leslie worked with a lawyer for over a year to contest the tax, however, it was when she brought the issue to Rockville Chamber of Commerce President & CEO, Marji Graf, that effective change began to take place. Within days after becoming involved, Marji took the issue straight to Annapolis where she quickly enlisted the support of Delegate Jim Gilchrist who helped submit a placeholder for a revised bill that would ultimately require that the bill include a clear definition of “telephone answering services” and exclude businesses whose gross receipts from answering telephones are less than 5%. The bill was sponsored by Julie Palakovich Carr on the House side and Senator Benjamin F. Kramer on the Senate side and was signed shortly thereafter.
“The Rockville Chamber has been phenomenal,” says Leslie. “After teaming up with Marji, it took less than three months to get the revised bill written, sponsored, and signed. This victory is just another testament to how much value the Chamber can bring to small businesses in Rockville.”
What started as an attempt to protect her clients and business resulted in a collaborative effort that may have saved hundreds of similar businesses from incurring the same tax which could have potentially impacted local business owners, clients, and customers throughout Maryland.
“I am glad Leslie shared her injustice with me so that we could go to Annapolis and have this outdated tax issue dealt with in a timely matter,” shared Marji Graf. “The Chamber works to promote a healthy and vibrant economy while protecting and advancing the interests of our member businesses and the community as a whole – and I believe we were able to accomplish that through our efforts.”