Councilmembers are lining up behind the idea of about amending the Home Rule charter to allow a commuter tax—taking a chunk of the income earned by those who go home and spend it in Maryland and Virginia. Reports the WBJ:
As the council’s second day of televised budget talks got under way, Councilman Harry Thomas, D-Ward 5, raised the issue that has long needled District leaders: A half-million people work in the nation’s capital but live elsewhere, and their income cannot be taxed at the source.
Thomas proposed a Home Rule Charter amendment to “impose any tax on the whole or any portion of the personal income either directly or at source thereof of any individual not a resident of the District.” His colleagues expressed their support.
The D.C. Council is one thing—but Congress, which would have to sign off on the change, is another. At a D.C. Chamber of Commerce event today, the issue came up during a panel including City Administrator Neil Albert, who thinks it’s doomed.
“I don’t know if it’s constitutional or not,” Albert said. “I just know that it would never pass Congress.”
In front of the business audience, Albert also played up the Fenty administration’s reluctance to take more of their earnings. “Our administrations’s approach has not been increasing taxes, period,” he said.
They might have to do quite a bit of it, though, after the Council kicked the responsibility of imposing emergency fees back to the Mayor to do by executive order. Chamber of Commerce president Barbara Lang, who has been lobbying against increased business fees and the proposed vacant property tax, told Housing Complex that this has thrown quite a bit of uncertainty into the process. “I’m not sure what’s going on,” she said.