D.C. Councilman: "We Tax Things We Want to Discourage"

Washington D.C. residents can expect increases in their taxes soon. Via the Washington Examiner:

The D.C. Council plans to increase the city’s sales, cigarette and gas taxes to bridge a massive deficit in fiscal 2010 and avoid a raid on coveted reserve funds.

After three days of “painful” and often heated talks, council members slashed roughly $300 million from the 2010 budget.

But they were still short an estimated $40 million, which they needed to raise through so-called “revenue enhancements” to avoid further cuts or a dip into the rainy day fund, as Mayor Adrian Fenty has suggested.

The council’s collective decision to jack up the sales tax from 5.75 to 6 percent, the cigarette tax from $2 to $2.50 a pack and the gas tax from 20 cents to 23.5 cents a gallon would generate an estimated $34 million combined, according to the finance office.

About the tax increases, chairman of the health committee David Catania said, "We tax the things we want to discourage.”

A question: If D.C. does indeed have a sizable rainy day fund, wouldn't the time to dip into it be now— rather than taxing the wazoo out of Washingtonians?

Reason's archive on the failures of the D.C. city council here.

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  • ||

    If D.C. does indeed have a sizable rainy day fund, wouldn't the time to dip into it be now

    Don't be silly. If they dip into the rainy day fund, they can't enact tax increases that will never go away, even if they have a budget surplus in the future.

  • ||

    Can we tax bureaucratic bullshit?

  • Rich||

    Yeah -- like *income*.

  • ||

    David Catania said, "We tax the things we want to discourage."

    The council's collective decision to jack up the sales tax from 5.75 to 6 percent,

    Do they want to discourage people buying things in DC?

  • Mike M.||

    They want to discourage people from buying things? Fascinating!

    And D.C. restaurants have a special sales tax at a whopping 10% rate, and it's already one of the most expensive places on the east coast to buy gasoline and cigarettes. I have no idea why anyone would voluntarily choose to live there instead of in Maryland or Virginia.

  • I, Kahn O\'Clast||

    Allow me to point out that these are all regressive taxes.

  • Invisible Finger||

    We tax the things we want to discourage. /i>

    Like income.

  • Invisible Finger||

    Aw shit.

  • I, Kahn O\'Clast||

    Mike M.

    "I have no idea why anyone would voluntarily choose to live there instead of in Maryland or Virginia."

    I lived in DC for 9 years and 1 year I commuted from VA. I would so much rather live in DC than in one of the outlying communities and have to commute in. DC has many advantages. Expensive advantages, but advantages nonetheless.

  • hammeredHead||

    Hold on, DC cut spending by more than 9 times the increase in taxes and has a rainy day fund. Wow, I never expected them to be so responsible.

  • Mad Max||

    What qualifies as a 'rainy day,' if not a major economic crisis?

    What are they waiting for - Godzilla attacking? Even then, they would probably hold off on using the rainy day fund, 'in case Mothra shows up and does the job for us.'

  • ||

    So the government wants to discourage income, sales, property, and capital gains? How enlightening!

  • Naga Sadow||

    Pro Lib,

    For teh childrenz. It was supposed to be understood.

  • PC||

    The D.C. Council plans to increase the city's Virginia sales, cigarette and gas taxes revenues to bridge a massive deficit in fiscal 2010 and avoid a raid on coveted reserve funds.

  • Stephen Smith||

    Sorry, but no matter how much Reason wants to spin it, a rise in the gas "tax" is NOT the same thing as a rise in other taxes. The gas tax is in reality a user fee - the price you pay for using the roads. Unlike general tax revenues, which are used to redistribute income, the gas tax pays for exactly what you use - the roads. It's not perfect (it doesn't take into account what roads you use it on), but there's definitely a huge difference between a general tax and a user fee. In fact, by raising the gas tax they are actually doing something more libertarian, because otherwise the roads would be even more heavily subsidized than they already are.

  • Rich||

    Just as your income "fee" is the price you pay for using the government's services.

  • Xeones||

    Can we tax bureaucratic bullshit?

    If that were possible, we could balance the Federal budget with the revenues from DC alone.

  • ||

    What about a tax on hubris?

  • ||

    And D.C. restaurants have a special sales tax at a whopping 10% rate,

    Chicago's got you beat bitches!!

    State Sales Tax 6.25%
    Chicago Sales Tax : 1.25%
    Cook County Sales Tax : 1.75%
    RTA Tax : 1.00%
    Pier Tax : 1.00%
    TOTAL SALES TAX : 11.25%
    Plus
    Restaurant Tax : .25%
    TOTAL TAX : 11.50%

  • T||

    Sorry, but no matter how much Reason wants to spin it, a rise in the gas "tax" is NOT the same thing as a rise in other taxes.

    It is in the context of a politician saying we tax things we're against.

  • Mike M.||

    DC has many advantages. Expensive advantages, but advantages nonetheless.

    The Mall, Smithsonian, cherry blossoms, monuments are definitely all great, but I can take advantage of all that without having to live in the city, and it's not as though I do that stuff every day.

    When it comes to dining out in D.C., my experience is that you're usually getting ripped for quality that just isn't worth the price.

    I won't even bother getting into stuff like real estate, the school system, and crime.

  • kilroy||

    "The gas tax is in reality a user fee - the price you pay for using the roads."

    Really? So their finding a 40 million deficit somehow increased the the amount of roadwork needed in DC next year?

  • ||

    CT,

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't Chicago have a special tax on canned soda? And on parking spaces? I seem to recall a special tax on theater performances, too, though I could be mistaken.

    Lots of discouraging goin' on in the Smelly Onion.

  • kilroy||

    And don't forget the almost universally egregious Hotel Tax.

  • ||

    I think we have that one down here. We like to stick it to tourists.

    Rental cars, too.

  • ||

    Maybe a "per-page tax" on legislation in the U.S. congress?

  • ||

    Let's tax thingy!

  • hmm||

    Coming soon in Washington DC. The long awaited poverty tax. We don't want no stinking poor people!

    I wonder if they could tax politicians. I'd don't want them.

  • T||

    I think we have that one down here. We like to stick it to tourists.

    Rental cars, too.


    Oh, yeah. Ours for hotel is like 14% once you get done. And the rental cars fee schedule is just a collection of excuses for government theft.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Maybe they could tax giant anuses at the ballpark.

  • JB||

    At least they are honest about wanting to discourage sales and businesses in the District of Columbia.

    People should spend their money in VA and MD and keep it out of DC.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Chicago has the highest "travel taxes" in all the land.

  • ||

    kilroy goes for the throat. Nice.

  • Rich||

    Don't suggest taxing taxes, hmm. It's been implemented, and obviously doesn't work.

  • ||

    "If D.C. does indeed have a sizable rainy day fund, wouldn't the time to dip into it be now"

    Deficit.............= $40 MM
    New Taxes........= $34 MM
    Rainy Day Fund...= $6 MM

    Can't libertarians do math??

  • ||

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't Chicago have a special tax on canned soda? And on parking spaces? I seem to recall a special tax on theater performances, too, though I could be mistaken.


    We have a special tax on bottled water (I think like a nicker per bottle) and a 3% soft drink tax.

    They also recently privatized all the parking meters in the City of Chicago (a 75 year lease I believe) and the company promptly tripled the parking meter prices in downtown. (doubled in other parts of the city). Parking meters require payment now 6AM to 9PM 7 days a week (it used to be like 8AM - 6PM and sundays were free).
    Also if an event occurs and the city temporarily halts parking on metered streets (like a parade or something) the city is required to pay for each space they closed down as if a car were parked there all day (6AM - 9PM)


    They do have a special tax for parking garages in the city.

    They also have a hospitality tax on hotel stays.

    There is also a 12% tax levied on car rentals in the city (and have proposed forcing people who rent in the suburbs but have the car 50% or more of the rental period in the city to pay that tax as well)

    Im not sure about a theater/entertainment tax (but I wouldn't be surprised)

  • ||

    Can't libertarians do math??

    Of course he can, we just like subtraction. You know, like cutting spending.

    I know that's a dangerous foreign concept for leftists, this notion that if you are spending too much, maybe you should not spend, you know, so much. Radical! Heretic!

  • ChrisO||

    C'mon, somebody has to pay Marion Barry's legal bills. The guy can't do it himself.

  • ||

    When I lived at River City (on Wells), the City, without prior notice, temporarily rezoned the street I was parked on for a movie location shoot. They towed my car along with twenty others, and there wasn't a damned thing I could do about it, even though it was fifty types of due process violation.

    So there's a living in Chicago tax, too.

    "They also have a hospitality tax on hotel stays."--Awesome.

  • JB||

    there wasn't a damned thing I could do about it

    All sorts of things you could do about it, none of them necessarily legal.

    If I get mugged in Chicago, Daley better leave the country and never come back. Because I will be going after that fat, red-faced, drunken mick. He can have piggy bodyguards, but I can't carry a gun in his crime-ridden city? Fuck him.

  • ||

    JB,

    Well, I was in law school at the time, but I long since left.

  • ||

    . . .driving a U-Haul out of town, while playing "Free Bird."

  • ||

    About the tax increases, chairman of the health committee David Catania said, "We tax the things we want to discourage."

    Did he ever consider what would happen to the amount of revenue raised, if the taxes really do discourage said things?

  • ||

    But JB, think how much worse it would be if they DID allow guns!! It'd be a bloodbath! Children shooting grandmothers, cripples shooting gays, dogs shooting cops! Oh the horror!!!

  • ||

    Say, I have an idea. How about a war tax? Not a tax to fund war, but a tax on war.

  • ||

    Jesus H, Pro Lib, how many wars do you want? They need revenue, damnit!

  • Rich||

    PL, in a metaphorical sense it exists.

    A war on taxes is a non-starter, so let's pursue your idea.

  • ||

    People should spend their money in VA and MD and keep it out of DC.



    That is what I do. I only live 23 miles from the White House, but unless I have out-of-state visitors, I never go into DC.

  • Mike DeBonis||

    I'm a reporter covering city hall in D.C.

    Regarding why the council doesn't dip into the rainy day fund: Because Congress has placed a restriction on the rainy day fund that says anything taken out has to be repaid within two years. Unfortunately, the revenue projections from the District's CFO don't show a rebound in the next two years, so the choice is between cutting a moderate amount now or holding the line now and a hell of a lot next year (when half the rainy day money would have to go back). The council chose the former.

    Mike DeBonis
    Washington City Paper

  • ||

    the gas tax pays for exactly what you use - the roads

    If major portions of the tax weren't being diverted to pay for things other than roads, I'd agree with you.

  • ||

    the gas tax pays for exactly what you use - the roads

    Not exactly (higher efficiency vehicles get more miles used on the roads for every dollar in tax paid compared to lower efficiency vehicles) but barring a direct miles driven tax this is the closest thing to a use tax we can get. (which I think the U of Iowa is looking at. They offering like 900 bucks to people across the country to take part in a study that installs a computer that tracks your mileage to see how feasible a mileage tax would be -- link here -- the article is about NH, but I have heard advertisments in Chicago too so I think it's a nation wide study.)

    The gas tax is one of the taxes that doesn't bug me.

  • ||

    Err sorry...the linked article above is about Maine, not New Hampshire

  • ||

    Unfortunately, the revenue projections from the District's CFO don't show a rebound in the next two years,

    You've gotta be kidding me. Washington DC is the healthiest city in the nation, virtually the only one that is expected to rebound from the recession next year. Money and jobs are pouring in from all over the country, and they aren't projecting any revenue growth?

  • hmm||

    Do the money and jobs count if they are based somewhere else? Most of DC's wealth is from out of state lobbyists and other interests, who don't really reside in DC. So DC looks like it has this great growth, but in reality it's people from outside. At least that is how I understand it.

  • ||

    "We tax the things we want to discourage."



    I'm going to go out on a limb and guess bet that D.C., like most large cities, has a tax on rental cars and hotel/motel rooms.

    If so, that would come under the heading of discouraging tourism.

  • ||

    I see my point has al;ready been covered.

    Gosh darn it.

  • Thogek||

    "We tax things we want to discourage."

    Ah, of course. These include...

    Income (work motivation).
    Sales (economic activity).
    Property (private ownership).
    Payroll (creating jobs).
    Corporations (business).
    Imports (foreign trade).

    Gotcha.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Debonis, I am your father (well, not in a strictly literal sense, but you know what I mean). Come with me to the Dark Side and together we shall rule the Galaxy!

  • ||

    ChiTom, if I ain't mistaken, big trucks pay taxes per mile driven in each state they drive. Set up that way maybe due to trucks with 300 gallons of fuel capacity that can go through many states before needing a fill up. Knowing the fuel tax in each state along with price per gallon can be helpful to your bottom line.

  • <strike>Strike through</strike||

    taxing the wazoo out of Washingtonians

    If you live in Sodom, you get what you deserve. It's only fair.

  • ||

    Well, clearly DC doesn't have a tax of smug assholes.

  • ||

    Then I recommend a 100% tax on all politicians wages. That should deter them from wanting to be politicians.

  • dave||

    Maybe a "per-page tax" on legislation in the U.S. congress?
    How about a "per-page tax" on Mark Foley?

  • ||

    I lived in DC for 9 years and 1 year I commuted from VA. I would so much rather live in DC than in one of the outlying communities and have to commute in. DC has many advantages. Expensive advantages, but advantages nonetheless.

    I lived in DC for 18 months in 1979-80, and the gas prices were so insane even then that I almost never filled up in town, but drove across the bridge to NoVa. I always understood that the higher D.C. taxes were the major reason for the price differential. Increasing the taxes further will only increase the incentives for residents to cross the river to buy the taxed items. (I say "the river" rather than "the border" because the Maryland also has insane taxes.)

  • دردشه عراقية||

    Thanks

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