A Flat Tax for the District?
||Friday, December 2, 2005
As they say: nothing is sure in life but death and taxes. And in the District, those taxes are high. That may change, though.
According to an article published in the New York Sun today, Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), who chairs the Senate's Appropriations Subcommittee on the District of Columbia, is mulling introducing a flat tax in the District. His intentions are not so much noble as they are inquisitive, though. Brownback referred to the District as a "laboratory" for a flat tax scheme that could then be implemented nationwide. Noted the article:
Brownback said that making D.C. a test case would, with limited potential for negative impact, provide valuable data about the effects of a flat tax that would prove helpful in determining whether it should be applied nationwide.
The flat tax would apply only to the federal income taxes District residents pay, not the three-tiered system of local taxes.The article quotes experts from the Heritage Foundation and the Tax Foundation, who argue that the flat tax would improve the city's business climate and flood city coffers with additional revenue. Brownback and his staff similarly note that it may help attract back many of the middle class residents who fled the city's high property taxes for Maryland and Virginia over the last decades. Opponents of the flax tax idea claim it places the burden of taxation on the poor and middle classes.
Steve Forbes, editor-in-chief of Forbes Magazine, advocated a federal flat tax in his 1996 and 2000 presidential bids. Brownback may be prepping for the same -- he is a rumored candidate for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.
D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams responded not to the substance of the proposal, but rather its implementation:
"Leaving aside the merits of this proposal, we continue to resist any efforts on the part of any member of Congress to impose rules and regulations on the people of the District."
The District has long been subjected to the whims of Congress, be they Brownback's recent opposition to a District plan to allow gay couples to file taxes jointly or Rep. Mark Edward Souder's yearly quest to overturn the city's restrictive gun laws.
While DCist's jury remains out on the idea of the flat tax, we do shudder at the description of the District as a "laboratory," especially if overseen by Brownback. What's next?
We give credit where it's due. Thanks to D.C. Metblogs for the scoop.
Posted by Martin Austermuhle in News