Potomac ASLA advocates to end sales tax on landscape architecture services in DC


We are looking for your help to get us closer to our goal of eliminating the sales tax on landscape architectural services in the District of Columbia this year. The DC Council will hold a hearing on our Bill 25-277: Landscape Architect Services Sales Tax Clarification Amendment of 2023 on Wednesday, January 24th. The hearing starts at 10 a.m. and you can livestream it here.

We will have a small number of members from our Chapter testify in-person, and we also need additional members to provide written testimony to support our bill. The more the better! Our successful licensure effort in 2016 received 129 written testimony submissions. Please download the testimony template and edit it as desired while keeping in mind the following:

  • Testimony should be no more than 2.5 pages
  • Indicate if you are a DC resident, licensed in DC, have a business located in DC, or if you work on projects located in DC
  • Stay on topic and focus all testimony on your support of this bill
  • Submit before January 31st
  • Please send a copy of your testimony to Advocacy Chair, Lesley Conroy –

Testimony can be submitted on the DC Council’s Website (see image below). Please reach out to Executive Director, Cris Cotter if you have difficulty submitting.


After the hearing, the bill be incorporated into the Council’s markup of the FY 2025 budget, and we expect further action later this spring. Please be on the lookout for future updates and thank you for your continued support!


Landscape architectural services have been subject to taxation in the District of Columbia since 1989 per this DC Code (§ 47–2001. Definitions. _ D.C. Law Library) and these DC Municipal Regulations. Landscape architects were not licensed in the District when this rule was published so landscape architectural design services were considered taxable in the same category of landscape construction and installation. Landscape architects became licensed professionals in the District in 2017 so the Potomac Chapter is advocating for the DC Council to remove the taxation on our services to better align with our industry peers and the majority of other states.

Key Facts

  • No other licensed professional design services are taxed in the District. Engineers, architects, and interior designers are all licensed professionals whose services are not subject to taxation.
  • Adjacent jurisdictions do not charge a tax on landscape architecture services.
  • The 6% sales tax on landscape architectural services is collected by landscape architects and paid quarterly to the Office of Tax and Revenue. The tax reduces the amount of the overall project budget that can be spent on landscape architectural services and disadvantages local businesses.


  • Reduced costs of construction for property owners in the District.
  • Landscape Architectural services will no longer be singled out among our peer industries.
  • Reduced administrative and compliance costs for local landscape architects, many of which are small businesses.

The Potomac Chapter of ASLA wrote a draft bill, which exempts licensed landscape architects’ services from taxation.  We are thrilled to announce that the Landscape Architect Services Sales Tax Clarification Amendment Act of 2023 was introduced on April 27, 2023 by Councilmember Charles Allen, with Councilmembers Matthew Frumin and Robert C. White, Jr. as co-sponsors.  Click here for details.

How You Can Help

  • Sign up here to give testimony to the DC Council when the committee holds its hearing. It is vital to our effort that every landscape architect who works on projects in the District provides support for this bill. Our lobbyist will be helping us with talking points.  More information will be available later this spring.
  • The Potomac Chapter is looking for contributions to help offset the lobbying costs associated with bringing the Landscape Architect Services Sales Tax Clarification Amendment Act of 2023 to the DC Council. Our $25,000 goal ensures we can continue providing high value programming to our membership as we undertake this effort. All contributions are welcome, and we are suggesting the following amounts based on firm size:
    • < 5 employees: $500 – $1,500
    • 5-9 employees: $1,500 – $3,500
    • 10-20 employees: $3,500 – $5,000
    • 20+ employees: $5,000+

How to Give

  • Donate at our PayPal link HERE.
  • Checks should be made payable to Potomac Chapter ASLA with “Advocacy campaign” in the memo. Please send to:

Christine Cotter
13528 Wisteria Drive
Germantown MD 20874

  • Note: Contributions are not tax deductible.


A Message from Potomac ASLA on March 24, 2021:

Standing in Compassion

We are shocked and saddened by recent attacks on members of the Asian American community in Atlanta and nationwide.  We condemn these acts of violence and erasure.  We remember the names of the victims: Soon Chung Park, Suncha Kim, Yong Ae Yue, Hyun Jung Grant, Xiaojie Tan, Delania Ashley Yaun, Daoyou Feng, and Paul Andre Michaels.  Sadlycountless others have been targets for hate crimes, and we denounce these acts of bigotry, which have escalated since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

There is no room in a just society for acts of intolerance and hatred, or for the fear left in the aftermath.

Each one of us can help to address the hatred and intolerance.  We can start by simply asking our Asian American and Pacific Islander friends, neighbors, colleagues, and contacts how they are doing and let them know that we care

Asian Americans are a vital part of our nation’s tapestry of people and a cornerstone of our profession and Chapter.  We stand in solidarity and compassion for our community.

With concern and humility,

Matt Johnston, PLA, ASLA, President

Annie Varma, RLA, ASLA, President-Elect

Kerri Blackman, ASLA, Immediate Past President



A Message from Potomac ASLA on June 9, 2020:

Change is Needed

Let’s Be Part of the Solution!

At last night’s meeting of our Executive Committee (our Chapter’s governing body), we discussed not only what to say to show our support of the peaceful protesters calling for an end to systemic racism, but also what we can do to contribute to accomplishing this important and necessary goal.

We acknowledge that our profession and ASLA membership do not reflect the United States population and that this needs to change: according to US Census and ASLA data, about 14 percent of the population identifies as African American, but only 3 percent of landscape architects and just over 1 percent of ASLA members do. What can we do collectively, as a Chapter, as well as individually, to make our profession and association more inclusive and reflective of the communities in which we work?

While our Chapter has taken some steps in recent years, such as participating in school STEM fairs and career days and adopting a DC public school, we recognize we have a long way to go.  If your firm is promoting diversity/inclusion in your practice and/or specific projects and we can share that with our membership, please tell us about it.

Like many of our members, we want to do something, and we are still figuring out how best to help.  If you have an idea, please share it with us.  We need more ideas and voices to help us create a meaningful plan: email us if you’d like to volunteer to help.

We pledge to continue to pursue strategies toward the important goals of ending systemic racism and creating a more diverse and inclusive community of landscape architects and look forward to your ideas and help.

Kerri Blackman, ASLA
2019-2020 Potomac Chapter President

Black Landscape Architects Network

Led by Potomac Chapter member, Glenn LaRue Smith, ASLA, BlackLAN was founded in 2012 and is a communication platform open to students and professionals of African ancestry. The goal of BlackLAN is to foster mentorship and dialogue around issues relevant to the African-American community. One of the Network’s primary goals is to increase the number of African-Americans in landscape architecture.

You can read their June 2020 statement about the protests, systemic racism, and their work to bring recognition to the importance of black landscape architects in society here: BlackLAN Statement-1.

Their most recent newsletter is here: BlackLAN Newsletter Vol. 1-6.8.2020-1.

Procedures for Identifying and Acting on Other Issues

The Chapter has adopted ASLA’s Advocacy Checklist and will follow it when other issues are brought to the Chapter’s attention.  You can review the document here: Chapter Checklist for State Federal Issues