IIDA Members Testify in Ohio to Defeat Proposed Sales Tax on Interior Design Services

A proposed sales tax in Ohio, introduced in the state budget bill in January 2017, sought to tax interior design and decoration services. The tax provision would have put Ohio’s interior designers at a disadvantage in relation to interior designers in neighboring states, as well as other design professionals whose services are not taxed. IIDA, together with the American Society for Interior Designers (ASID), mobilized a grassroots advocacy campaign and successfully defeated the proposed tax.

Here, Tamra Fuscaldo, IIDA, NCIDQ, an interior designer for healthcare, higher education, and corporate facilities, and the past president of the IIDA Ohio Kentucky Chapter, shares her experience testifying before the Ohio Legislature about the negative effects the proposed sales tax would have had on the Interior Design industry in Ohio.

IIDA: Why was it important for you to get involved and testify in front of the Ohio Legislature?

Tamra Fuscaldo: I have been in the Interior Design industry for over 25 years. I feel that it is my responsibility to stand up for our profession. We are continually misunderstood and mislabeled, and I will do whatever I can to change that narrative.

IIDA: What key points were used in Ohio that made a big impact?

TF: For the legislation involving taxing of luxury services in Ohio, the bill was written with too broad of a definition. The intent was to tax the consumers, those who might have discretionary funds, when hiring a residential interior designer or decorator, referred to as business to consumer (B2C). I wanted to make it clear that the definition included commercial interior designers, those who worked in the business to business (B2B) sector. Commercial interior designers typically have at least a four-year degree, pass the NCIDQ, and have years of specialized experience in interiors. Moreover, with this tax, project costs would rise, impacting budgets and causing small firms to lower their fees in order to compete. Essentially, this was a tax on professional services not luxury services.

IIDA: What were the keys to success in Ohio?

TF: The profession of interior design has a long way to go in terms of advocacy. The public, including our legislative representatives, do not have a clear understanding of the complexity of our industry. During our hearings, we represented the Interior Design industry well, and I hope we were able to change the perspectives of legislators who were present. Ultimately, we have to show value in our profession in a way that puts us on par with architects and engineers. The key to success in Ohio was being able to define interior design to legislators as a professional and technical industry that benefits the public.


Want to learn more about advocating for the Interior Design profession? Join us at the next IIDA Advocacy Symposium.

Deregulation Bills: What Do They Mean for Interior Designers?

Deregulation bills are pieces of legislation introduced by state legislators to remove part or all interior design laws in a particular state. Read on to learn more about deregulation bills and how you can get involved with advocating for the interior design industry.

Who is behind these efforts to deregulation interior design and other professions and occupations?

There isn’t one answer to this question. A legislator may have been asked to sponsor the bill by a constituent. However, several national organizations have made decreasing occupational and professional regulation a priority, including but not limited to the Institute for Justice and Americans for Prosperity. These organizations and supporters of the deregulation legislation believe that occupational and professional regulation makes it difficult for people to enter those professions, increases the cost of services by those professions, and does not protect the public.

Why should interior design be regulated?

Commercial interior designers are more than they are perceived to be. They have a tangible impact on the interior environment.

  • Regulation shows consumers and clients that an individual has met government-approved standards of education, experience, and examination.
  • Regulation gives consumers an avenue for redress.
  • Regulation demonstrates that the profession of interior design is on par with architects, landscape architects, and engineers for their prescribed scope of work.
  • Regulation expands economic opportunities for interior designers.
  • Regulation can and should include expanded privileges, such as the ability to submit their work to a building department for a permit and ability to own their own design firm.

What is IIDA doing to combat these bills?

IIDA monitors legislation in all 50 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Congress on a daily basis. We closely monitor any legislation that pertains to the industry, but especially to attempts to undermine legislative progress. In addition, IIDA maintains open dialogue with hired lobbyists, coalitions, and ASID National. IIDA recognizes the importance of the legislative progress and continues to advocate for the voluntary registration or certification of interior designers.

In January, IIDA worked cooperatively with the Virginia/West Virginia and Mid-Atlantic IIDA Chapters and with ASID national and their Virginia chapters to combat successfully HB1824, which would have deregulated interior design in Virginia.

What can I do?

First, be aware of the laws in your state. If an action alert is sent by IIDA, ASID, or a coalition, act on those alerts. Connect with your legislator to let them know you’re an interior designer and why you care about interior design registration. No one can speak better about your profession than you.


To learn more about interior design advocacy, visit advocacy.iida.org.