JONETTA ROSE BARRAS’ “The Tax-Free Zone” (12/2) is an exercise in scapegoating. Noting that the District government faces a $500-million budget deficit and a $100-million cash shortfall, sheopines that tax-exempt charities and nonprofits are to blame. She thus deflects attention from the real problem: the District government.
Barras estimates that property taxes on D.C.-based nonprofits would have generated over $200 million in 1994. But if taxed, many nonprofits would move to the suburbs, lowering city income, sales, and property tax revenues. Many other social-service nonprofits operate on shoestring budgets. If taxes forced them to close, where would the District government get the money to fill the gaps?
District officials can begin to reduce the deficit by competitively contracting-out and privatizing the District’s array of municipal services. Other progressive city governments have saved money and improved the quality of life by doing so. Why shouldn’t we?