Commuter Tax Comes Up in D.C. Budget Talks

D.C. lawmakers once again are considering a commuter tax to help bridge the budget gap, the Washington Business Journal reported.

Council members said Wednesday they would back such a measure through an amendment to the Home Rule Charter.

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.

An amendment to Home Rule, which currently bans a commuter tax, would be subject to congressional approval, and Congress traditionally opposes such a tax.

Councilman David Catania, while in favor of moving ahead with the idea, suggested that such a tax could be devastating to Maryland and tough on Virginia as well, as D.C. is in better financial shape than neighboring jurisdictions, the Business Journal reported. But Catania noted that maybe D.C. could help itself out by helping nonresidents out less. He cited $53 million in charitable hospital care to residents of Virginia and Maryland in 2008.

A commuter tax would generate an estimated $500 million a year for D.C.

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