Friday Question of the Day – DC Voting Rights Edition

DSCN6104, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

Yesterday the Post’s DC Wire reported:

“One of the most vocal proponents of the DC vote bill offered an alternative today: stripping DC residents of the obligation to pay federal taxes.

Rep Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) told a hearing of the House Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties that he was introducing a bill this week to exempt District residents from paying taxes.”

Today DCist had a great list of alternative options to DC’s non vote problem.

But I’m gonna make the FQOTD a simple one – would you rather have a vote in Congress or not have to pay Federal taxes? I’m hesitant to admit but if given the choice, I’d have a very tough time turning down an exemption to Federal taxes. You?

91 Comment

  • One out of 537 does not mean much to me and if Ms. Norton gets the full vote we will be told that we got our vote, now shut up; consequently, there will probably never be DC statehood. However, no federal taxes will put more money into residents’ pockets, help many working people make rental payment, buck up our ailing housing market. I see more good from that.

  • i agree with dcrat in that 1 out of 537 isnt that great… also, after having been in dc for a while and seeing the jokers that have been voted into city elected seats, im not so sure i would even want dc to have a vote

  • Vonstallin

    No Tax……..That would be like getting a Helluvah raise…
    I tell you this..if that happend DC would be flooded with incoming people.
    1st we have a more stable job market then add no federal taxes! the DC expansion would be rappid. NE, SE, every where I bet would fill up with people migrating to the area.

    But I bet DC Gov increase our taxes since they figure we dont have to pay Fed Taxes.
    Bring It….

    To live n Die in DC…
    DC 4 Life…lol

  • This would be unworkable. Every high level executive and politician nationwide would rent an apt/house here, claim residency and get paid through their company’s gov’t relations office. They’d work and live wherever they wanted, but have ‘DC residency’ to avoid paying taxes. If it did anything, this act would artificially inflate DC real estate prices much more than they already are.

  • you people who think the no federal taxes thing would be some kind of a boon are not thinking. remember, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

    our local taxes would be raised stratospherically to make up the difference. in the end, they’d try to balance things so there’s no net loss of revenue for the city. how that would fall on the backs of the wealthy, middle-class, and poor is questionable. i’m sure well-connected people would lobby for a system that helps those of real means get away with an advantage, while the rest of us are left holding the bag…

  • I’m thinking it through just fine and I would gladly say no taxes. Yes, the DC government would try to make up some of the difference, which would be money spent on things closer to home.

    Much better than a meager vote.

  • Make up the difference from what? Our paid federal income taxes don’t go directly to DCgov now. If you mean that DCgov would hold its hand out for more, yeah, that’s absolutely true. But the “state” taxes are already outrageous here.

  • Those poll numbers are hard for me to believe. Hardened cynics are we? People have fought and died for their vote towards 1/537. Or less.

  • Unless we plan to stop receiving all of the public goods provided by the federal government, such as protection by the military and the U.S. legal system, this makes no sense. We’re too entrenched as a part of a nation based heavily on federalism to extricate ourselves from the federal government in this way.

    That said, if we’re paying taxes, we ought to have a voice in Congress.

  • I don’t think I could stand the sight of a DC that was a Federal tax haven. DC would be gentrified so quickly that probably nobody would be able to rent anymore.

    Aside from that, I prefer a true representative government to the idea of extra disposable income (which I agree with previous posters – I think DC would just take it right back from you, seeing as they probably wouldn’t get any federal help anymore).

    Also, who says the fight for representation is going to end with a vote in congress? Like hell it is. If we get a vote, we’re going to fight even harder to get our votes in the Senate. Statehood or not – we can amend the Constitution. That’s what representative government and our Constitution are all about – making it work in a way that everyone can be happy with.

  • saf

    I’m stunned. Just stunned. I cannot imagine someone willing to give up the vote for a few more dollars.

  • The US consitution is quite clear on this issue, “Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union…” No offense here, but last time i looked, the District of Columbia was the seat of the federal governement, a federal district, a metropolitan city and most definetly not a state. If you feel that you and your interests are under represented, maybe you should consider moving to the suburbs.

  • no taxes thanks.

  • No taxes definitely.

    IMGoph: What’s to stop the city from raising your taxes now? Why would the lack of a federal income tax in the district automatically mean a raise in city taxes? One doesn’t logically follow the other. The city has a HUGE reserve right now anyway, so it would be unlikely that the council could justify a new tax hike anytime soon. I’d like the people who suggest that there would be a commiserate city tax rise to state, exactly, why they think that would be.

    The federal government would still have to invest heavily in the city to support their continued presence here, VA and MD still have to pay their share for METRO, what, exactly is hard about this question? The lack of a federal tax would mean a boom that would make the last 10 years look like a wet fart, all of us holding property would become much more wealthy, the still abandoned parts of this city will be rebuilt, jobs would be created, and businesses made healthy.


    Eleanor gets to cast a vote.

    While there are occasionally close votes in the House where one more (or less) Rep. who is to a person’s personal political liking could be helpful, compared to the real, tangible value of lifting this city up? There is NO choice here, do away with the taxes.

    Further, lets be honest, we all know that the only way Norton is getting her vote is if they also, simultaneously add a seat in Utah, the “reddest” state in the nation. So what is this ultimately about? What “DC Vote” is about is giving a small cadre of local politicians more power. It means nothing to national policy since the vote will be canceled out by whatever extra inbred is trucked in from Utah. What it might mean for DC is unclear. The best answer is “probably nothing”.

    No federal taxes, on the other hand, that’s “real change you can believe in.”

    Sorry Eleanor.

  • A DC without Federal Taxes is a horrible idea. It just wouldn’t work. Ontarioroader is right, everyone would buy an apartment here and simply claim DC residence. Esays is also right in that if we wish to keep taking federal benefits, how can we quit paying Federal Taxes? Zoom268 is incorrect, DC is no longer just a seat of the federal government, but home to several top universities and over 500,000 residents.

    We are citizens of what claims to be one of the most democratic states in the world. We must be given a voice in Congress.

  • Also, as to the complaints about the wealthy moving here as a tax haven, what coudl be better? They would be forced to pay DC city taxes, yet would use few city services.

  • really zoom268? I don’t even know what to say to your comment. Even if you don’t live in DC, I can’t imagine how a United States citizen could think it was alright for another United States citizen to not have a voting member of Congress representing their best interests. Move to the suburbs? I’m not sure you get it. Maybe I’m idealistic, but our nation was founded on an individual’s right to representation and DC residents have been denied that right for centuries.

    I wouldn’t rather have no federal taxes. Even if it’s not going to change much, I want the representation. It’s about the concept, not about the money.

  • No taxes would be the most amazing boon for homeowners that this city has ever seen.

  • No Federal taxes is a great idea and one that should be considered. Not only would it be good for the city and attract new people (and not just those who want to buy an apartment). Plus, who cares if people would invest in DC and not always live here? I agree, DC would raise our taxes but I disagree that the Federal government should stop helping out, this is the capital of the USA. Since we can’t have property tax on all the land the government uses, that should be enough trade off to have the federal government pay something to the city.

    In France, I believe all citizens pay a tax for up keep of their capital city, Paris. Why not here is the USA as well?

  • Too busy at work today to research this but I think in the past when I have read serious analysis about what would happen if DC was made exempt from paying Federal taxes, the benefit would be eaten up by additional DC taxes needed to pay for items the Fed would no longer be paying.

    p.s. This all could be a flashback due to all the drugs i did in the 70s.

    p.p.s. or give the non-federal portion of DC back to Maryland… 😉

    p.p.p.s was that another flashback? WOAH!

  • Its not my vote cuz I’m not Eleanor…so yeah I’d give it up. We are not a true democracy because the people dont vote on laws, politicians do. We are a benevolent dictatorship. I’ll take the no taxes, thanks.

  • No Federal taxes would destroy this city. Real estate prices would skyrocket. Everybody worth their salt would get an address here. The folks that did live here would be forced out, and only empty shells would remain. Businesses would dry up (as nobody would be around anymore).

    I don’t want a f&*@$in congresscritter either. Give me a pair of senators. If Wyoming can have them, I want them too. That’s where s&*t gets done.

    Also, don’t we have a “shadow representative” that would take office were we to get a real congressasshat? And wouldn’t that mean it wouldn’t be Ms. Norton?

    Don’t get me wrong, I do admire and respect Ms. Norton. I just want what’s ours.

  • (1) DC wouldn’t become a tax haven, that’s just silly talk. Congress could just as easily legislate out that possibility as they could legislate away taxes (by requiring your place of employment within X miles (as they already do with tax deductions for moving expenses), or requiring that you spend X days a year in DC (as they already do with the inverse for vacation house rules).
    (2) There is no rationale for the federal government not providing some level of services if DC doens’t have federal taxes. Look at Puerto Rico. Also, DC doesn’t have a commuter tax, and many people that live in VA and MD work in DC, so what is the rationale from withholding federal services from commuters?
    (3) Re: the DC is not a “state” constitutional argument. Poppycock. Federal laws are usually passed under the justification that the constitution allows the federal government to regulate interstate commerce, and they apply only to those engaged in interstate commerce. No one claims DC is not a state and therefore those laws do not apply to DC residents.
    (4) I don’t want just one seat in Congress. What kind of preverse justice is that? So our residents get 1/3 the vote that everyone else gets? That is worse than the 3/5s compromise. For a majority black city (I’m not black), I can’t believe more people aren’t up in arms about this (as I am).
    (5) The addition of a seat in Utah to balance us out? See above. Worse than 3/5s compromise, and just a terrible injustice. Incredible, that in this day and age people can get away with floating such ideas.

  • Everyone who thinks DC will become a tax haven is deluding themselves. No one will be moving to DC to escape federal income tax. If they wanted that, they could already move to Guam or Puerto Rico.

  • Tim: The feds are responsible for keeping up federal land and that wouldn’t change. There seems to be this perception here that DC government just gets gobs and gobs of federal money to run the rest of the city. That is not the case. Why not look at the facts instead of just guessing?

    Take a look at Table 3-1 (page 48), and Figure 1-1 for starters. 60% of the revenue funds for the city are local property, income and sales taxes, another 20% comes from interest from invested funds, bonds, or other special purpose entities of one kind or another, and another 20% are Medicaid, Block Grant payments, and specific federal payments for things like the Inauguration.

    This notion that the city just receives a blank check from the Feds every year may be popular with Republican Congressmen, but like much they believe it isn’t grounded in any facts.

    Not a dime of this would be effected by any federal income tax change. Block grants in DC are no friggin’ different than block grants in Boston, Houston, or Kalamazoo. They are for specific projects and purposes and don’t effect the roads, police, trash pickup, or other city services which are funded by the LOCAL taxes we all pay and the invested funds (billions) that the city has sitting around. Unlike a lot of cities, DC has money in the bank. A lot of money in the bank. It’s worth noting that the city is socking away almost $1.5 billion dollars this year while we’re in a depression. Money isn’t the issue in city government.

    Further, want to make a bet on just how many BILLIONS more the city receives in property and income taxes (even at current rates) should this become a tax haven?

    How high can you count?

    Again, this is a no-brainer. It makes a lot of sense… i.e. it’ll never happen.

    I understand there is something patriotic and, dawgonnit, just “fair” about DC getting a vote. But it’s a symbol. You can’t house people and rebuild a city with symbols.

  • A vote, definitely. I don’t want rich people from across the country to be able to dodge their taxes, and I don’t want to be priced out of living in DC.

  • Wow, dangle a few dollars in front of the residents and suddenly no one cares about representation/statehood. A very sad commentary indeed. Everything in this country is for sale now I guess, even our principles.

    Besides there’s no way there will be a federal tax exemption for DC with out some serious loopholes, pitfalls. This is like making a deal with the devil. A great idea at the time until he returns to reclaim the favor. Not only would this permanently kill the push for representation, but do you honestly think the money we as residents would save in federal taxes will just dollar for dollar turn into disposable income? Please.

    The feds would almost certainly scale back, if not end their contributions altogether to DC, not to mention that federal school and road funding would be reduced and every other lawmaker would point to our tax exempt status as a reason to shit all over us whether it be refusing to authorize money for dc pet projects, forcing us to pick up the tab for federal events, meddling in the affairs of the city on issues such school reform, needle exchanges and contraception or renaming every street after a member of Ronald Reagan’s family. No thanks. Give me my vote. It’s not for sale.

  • JinDC: I’ll admit the roads in DC can be confusin’ at first, but I think DC is SLIGHTLY more accessible than Gaum or PR.


  • (as I’m awaitng comment moderation)

    Can we get ride of this notion that we should just get ONE person in Congress and that is what we deserve??? Our residents would then get 1/3 the vote that everyone else gets. That is worse than the 3/5s compromise.

    Also, the addition of a seat in Utah to balance us out? See above. Worse than 3/5s compromise, and just a terrible injustice. Incredible, that in this day and age people can get away with floating such ideas.

  • Ro: How, exactly, would statehood or a vote in Congress help people in DC.

    Be specific.

  • Sure, “no taxes” sounds pretty. But until all legal residents of this country have full congressional representation, I call “American Democracy” a global catastrophe of self-righteous deluded glow-in-the-dark bullshit. We should fix this or shut the hell up in ALL matters of international influence. Close down the goddamned State Department and pull out of the UN. Et Cetera. We have no business trying to tell other countries how to behave as long as this condition persists.

  • Ro: Also, see above with regard to Federal spending in DC. I think you’ll be surprised to learn, since we are often told what a drag on the Federal coffers we are, that (a) we aren’t, and (b) money is not really a problem for this city as we are able to sock away nearly a billion and a half dollars a year. This notion that a tax exempt status will “somehow” mean we end up paying more “somehow” is baseless. One doesn’t follow the other.

    It seems that “statehood” people, to a large extent, are basing there support on emotions. I understand that. I think, in a perfect world, it’d be grand for DC to be the 51st state. However, if the choice is between that (which it isn’t anyway) and a tax-free status that will grow the city, it’s not even a close call.

    If it were between the status quo and a vote for Eleanor, I’m all for Eleanor voting. But let’s be clear, she could be the tiebreaker in 1000 votes and it still wouldn’t mean as much ON THE GROUND in DC as a tax-free zone would mean.

    Personally, I think Gohmert knows this proposal is going to go nowhere. It’d be nice if it were a real option, but more than likely you’ll get that vote for Eleanor AND some inbred rube from Utah, they’ll cancel each other out, and DC will, as always, get the shit end of the stick.

  • Odentex: I agree with you mostly, but a representative and 2 senators in DC would help secure Metro funding. That’s one thing.

  • Wow, making DC residents expempt from federal taxes would be horrible. It would be horrible for current DC residents, residents of other states, and DC andAmerica as symbols. Let think about how this would really play out.

    1. Creating a federal tax haven would cause property values and rent prices to skyrocket. There are only about 500,000 people living in DC now, and 300,000,000 living in the US. The people that would benifit the most from this bill would be the richest and they would all try to get DC residencey to avoid federal taxes, which would mean that DC would be roughly be populated by the richest 0.16% of America. Granted new development would happen and more people could live in the city, but this would take a lot time and when the development ends, more rich people would move in. For people who want to say that DC would have mixed income to run, you are wrong. These people wouldn’t care about the city or even live in, they would just be claiming residencey.

    2. With DC residents paying no federal taxes, the federal governement would not be willing/happy about paying for city upkeep. They would pass the bill to the city government. Even if feds did pay for city upkeep, it would ruin DC image in the eyes of the country. I mean, a city inhabited by the richest people who aren’t paying federal income taxes is receiving money from the government? DC would become an even larger symbol of corruption than it already is.

    3. It not good for residents of other states. Even if the feds don’t pay for DC upkeep, they would have to make adjustments for tax money not being collected on the people living in DC who had contributed a large amount previously.

    4. It would be bad for American’s image. Instead of standing for democracy and fair representation, our nation’s image would be one of ” fair representation or just don’t pay taxes.”

    The only people in DC that really stand to benefit from this are property owners.

  • Give me the vote.

    First, it is much more likely to happen than us not paying federal taxes – could you really imagine the federal government giving up our taxes? We pay more fed taxes than 18 other states.

    Second, the seat of the government argument is lacking in historical accuracy. The “seat” was originally only the City of Washington. This was located within the greater Territory of Columbia. When the Constitution was written, very few people lived within the City of Washington and so the no representation concept was passable. It wasn’t until 1871 that the two locales were merged, creating Washington, DC. The framers clearly did not intend to create an area and population as big as the District as we know it today to go without representation in Congress.

    zoom 268: The representatives and direct taxes clause does nothing to prevent a vote for DC. Clearly the “direct taxes” part hasn’t ever been an issue (as we have always been taxed), so why should the representatives side be one? Are you suggesting we only read certain words from that clause?

    Last, and most important, the “if you dont like it, move” argument is for the weak. I say if you don’t like it, change it. It’s a democracy.

  • “… our nation’s image would be one of ” fair representation or just don’t pay taxes.””

    This is already true. Several Native American tribes have chosen to not pay federal taxes. If they are a self-governance tribe, this is justly their choice. This does leave their constituents out of social security payments once they retire…something that would most likely apply to DC residents as well. But since Social Security will be gone anyway, who cares?!

  • 1. DC WOULD NOT BECOME A TAX HAVEN. The IRS already has laws that could be models on how to prevent this. Two Examples: (1) You have to work within X miles of your home in order to be a DC resident exempt from federal taxes. A version of this is applied when someone attempts to take a movind expense deduction on their federal taxes. (2) You have to live in your DC residence for X days a year in order to be exempt from federal taxes. A version of this is applied when determining whether a vacation property (and associated deductions) qualifies as a rental home or a primary residence.

    2. What is the justification for the Federal Government to shut off the little amount of money they already provide to the District? DC has no commuter tax, and a large percentage of the workforce live in VA and MD. Why would the Federal Government threaten city services for those that commute to work in DC? Especially because many of those people work for the federal government? Do VA and MD federal government employees not deserve ambulances and hospitals?

    Look, obviously its not going to ever happen, but these are not even CLOSE to the reasons why it would never happen.

  • To further J’s point (and that of the other “Please Don’t Turn DC Into a Tax Haven” posters) – regular homeowners would be pushed out not only by fat cats wielding bags of money just begging to snap up every last plot of land in the city (which is mostly a win-win) but property taxes would increase to the point that regular folks who wanted to stay would no longer be able to afford it. You think people bitch about gentrification now? This would be like some kind of hyper gentrification in the speed, scope and scale that it would take place.

    Oh, and as far as being a “symbol” of corruption? Every tax haven I’ve ever been to (granted, this would take on a distinctly US flavor, as the others have not) are bastions of legit corruption.

  • I have to side with the folks that want the vote. The benefits of paying no Federal taxes would be short-lived. No Federal taxes would mean that the cost of living in DC would drop. That would mean the demand for housing in DC would shift upward, thereby causing a corresponding increase in the cost of housing until the cost of housing cancelled out whatever amount people are saving from paying no taxes.

  • “saf Says:

    January 30th, 2009 at 9:27 am
    I’m stunned. Just stunned. I cannot imagine someone willing to give up the vote for a few more dollars.”

    Give up the vote? DC never had one…the license plates read “taxation without representation” for a reason…the choice is not between retaining a vote or relinquishing it for a tax exemption…given that there is NO REPRESENTATION, would you choose to get some or just eliminate the unfair taxation?

  • “It seems that “statehood” people, to a large extent, are basing there support on emotions.” Odentex, I believe what you refer to as “emotions” are what others might call democratic principles, moral fairness, and civil rights. Just a thought.

  • @ThinkThinkAboutIt – some states that don’t have income tax have those exact rules. I know people who live here and and [don’t] pay taxes in their home, income-tax free states. Those rules are extraordinarily easy to thwart.

  • The issue of DC voting rights is about as close to my heart as Dos Gringos, it’s not. Interests groups that advocate for this issue should work hard to supplement things like social services, public transportation costs, and working towards a much more international and metropolitan world capital city. DC voting rights, ha. This is a federal city and has been since its inception.

  • IntangibleArts: I’ve lived the vast majority of my life with “congressional representation” (including the spectacularly unimpressive Sheila Jackson-Lee) and it hasn’t made much difference. Strike that. It has made NO difference.

    This is the same Congress that routinely votes to give itself pay raises and, until recently, wouldn’t raise the minimum wage. The same Congress that almost unanimously voted for the Patriot Act and the Iraq war resolutions, and continues, to this day, to fund that war contrary to the wishes of your precious UN. The same Congress that housed such famous pedophiles as Mark Foley who consistently voted for harsher penalties for child porn and child sex offenses.

    Even if Eleanor was a friggin’ saint, a reincarnation of Barbara Jordan and Gandhi, who always voted with the best interests of DC and humanity as her guide, the fact remains that Rep. Buford J. Mormon from Utah would be shadowing her every move would make such dramatic stands pointless.

    Brutus didn’t save the Republic, he KILLED it. He was an emotional dreamer, like thousands and thousands of DC residents who want to go to the barricades to protect their “vote” and “save” the republic.

    Okay, I ask again, what will that vote get you, exactly?

    Patriotic satisfaction? Et tu Brute?

    I can tell you what no federal taxes will get me… down to the penny.

    J & Others: (1) Stop it with the “Feds are gonna turn off the spigot!” argument. The spigot is not on. Look at the budget for the city. The city is CONSTANTLY fighting with the Feds to pay for things like presidential security details, which they don’t pay for, and this notion that the city gets oodles of federal dollars is, let me say this carefully once again, JUST WRONG. (2) Predictions that people will buy up post office boxes and spare cupboards to take advantage of no taxes are easily solved by having residency restrictions which can be placed in the legislation from Congress or mandated by the city council.

  • The rules are extraordinarily easy to thwart when its a state not facing the cataclysm of lost tax revenue that everyone here thinks would happen if DC was exempt from federal income taxes. If the “richest people” in the US all moved to DC because its a “tax haven,” do you know how easy it would be to out those people and collect their tax? We’re talking about IRS enforcement not DC Tax and Revenue enforcement. We’re also talking about extremely easy ways for the IRS to verify this information (for starters, they could compare W-2 place of employment with claimed state of residence). Come on, lets be serious about this.

  • No taxes no taxes, lots of money in my pockets!! Come on, what’s the point of debating this? It’s a completely unrealistic question. We will never be exempt from paying federal taxes, so we should focus our energy on the more realistic, constitutionally-sound goal of achieving representation. I suppose it’s fun in a sort of Friday-fantasy-sort of way, but it really is a pointless debate.

  • DC Chica: Are you under the impression that one vote in Congress (canceled out by another for Utah) would provide more “moral fairness, and civil rights” for DC residents? If so, how? Be specific.

    Secondly, how is it that democratic principles are thwarted by DC residents voting for ANC’s, council members, mayors, and presidents? Even if you could vote for Eleanor (since that will be your “option”), how would that effect your life more than who you voted into local office?

    I’d just like to know how “the vote” is anything more than window dressing and giving Eleanor a better comfy chair. Again, in the absence of any other options, let Eleanor have her day, but if the Republicans are dumb enough to cancel our taxes?

    Only in DC would people fight off even the “idea” of tax relief for the idea of some bogus “democratic principle” that is, in fact, neither democratic nor a principle.

  • ColHeightsChick: I agree that it’s very unlikely, but a bill has been introduced. There has been no bill introduced that would allow statehood, senators, or any other real parity of representation, and there is little chance that such a bill will ever see the light of day.

    The likely result is, and remains, a swap with Utah which will derail any chance of getting senators or statehood and result in:

    [drum roll]

    Absolutely no change whatsoever to the average DC resident.

  • To Think and Odentex,

    What do you think would happen to the cost of living in DC if all of the sudden no one had to pay Federal taxes? Simple economics dictates that it would go up due to increased demand for housing until the cost of housing cancelled out the incentive of paying no Federal taxes. Regular folks would be priced out to make room for the uber rich who can still afford to live here. Gentrification on steroids. That may be okay with some, but I say no thank you.

  • Not to mention that whatever savings you were getting by paying no taxes would be lost due to an increased cost of living. Talk about getting nothing in the end…

  • Look, to bring the argument back to reality, two things that would benefit DC from getting a vote: (1) A Metro funding voice. Remember, its always tough to get MD and VA to pony up, and with some votes we would have some muscle to enforce our interests. (2) Remove the silly restriction that DC cannot enact a commuter tax. If DC enacted a commuter tax (which, remember everyone, does not RAISE taxes for people in MD or VA, it just redirects a portion of their tax dollars to the district to cover city services that need to be available for them while they are here for 8+ hours a day earning their living), then DC local taxes would DECREASE (or it would at least increase the DC tax revenue, which would allow the DC Council to decrease the tax rate)! This is because suddenly we would have another source of income. This is a very real and very tangible benefit from having THREE votes in Congress, as opposed to the pipe dream of not having to pay for Federal Income taxes.

    I do mostly agree with Odentex, but I think Odentex is forgetting about the above.

  • THREE VOTES everyone. Remember, revenue bills originate in the House, but they have to be passed by the Senate as well. 1 + 2 = THREE. Do not settle for one vote in the house. Ridiculous and offensive is what that is.

  • dcdude: Building and growth don’t happen in a vacuum, and currently DC spends 1/3 of it’s 10 billion budget on social services, medicaid, and other services for the poor. The poor also benefit from the same city services and schools we all do. Your prediction that poor people would be “forced out” is no different from the predictions that have been made for the last two decades – and yet the poor remain and the city has the budget to prove it. Why would things suddenly change? Why isn’t just as likely that the city uses that increased revenue as it always has here in deference to the poor (at least as compared to just about any other city in the USA)? Perhaps the better funded schools could even help create some formally poor people.

    Predictions are funny animals. You predict gentrification nightmares, I predict the city coffers full to support the community. Your predict disaster, I predict opportunity. Who is to know.

    One thing I do know: paying no taxes is better than a vote in congress for DC AND Utah that cancel each other out.

    Talk about a feel-good, no-substance political act.

  • Reiterating: Not paying taxes is not better than having f&@#ckin senators. I could care less about one vote in the House.

  • Think: They are NEVER going to pass a bill for senators. NEVER. They’re willing to give up fed taxes just to prevent a potential tie-breaker in some, far-off future where the Republicans regain a lot of seats in the House. What makes you think two senators is anything more than a fantasy?

    The likely outcome is that Eleanor gets her wish and so will some rube from Utah. Eleanor’s happy, a lot of residents of DC who don’t think too deeply on the issue are happy, the rube is happy (but scared of moving to DC), and the rest of us just keep on keepin’ on.

  • But no taxes and increased cost of living would also cancel each other out. Basic supply and demand requires it. As for the plight of the poor, I hope you are right, but I’m not convinced that with a sudden influx of wealthy residents, the city’s deferrance to the poor would remain as strong. The political landscape of DC would change dramatically. Again, that’s just my guess.

  • For the sake of argument, IF two senators were included, it is a harder question. I still think that no taxes would be more beneficial to the city then full representation, but two progressive senators is better for the country, and I’d have to pick the country over DC.

    But a House seat swap with Utah?

    Totally pointless and useless.

    Better yet, proportional representation in the senate is even better. Take senators away from Wyoming and the rest of flyover USA. The entire mountain states can share one senator and, by law, the other senators can address him or her as “The Idjit”.

  • dcdude: A cost of living that equals (depending on your tax bracket) 22% or more of your income? Inflation would have to be at a rate that would make Jimmy Carter blush and drop his hammer. Frankly, while COL would rise, it wouldn’t outpace people effectively getting 20-25% more income in the slightest. Think about it. Even if housing prices doubled (like they already did in the last decade), that doesn’t factor into COL in proportion because you only really look at the cost of money for housing lending which, as we all know, is the lowest it’s ever been. Sorry, economically there isn’t much of an argument against no taxes.

    The same arguments that have been aired here several times about gentrification exist today whether such an event happens or not: it forces out renters (true), it causes people to move because they can’t pay their taxes (untrue), and that it’s racist (hello whitey!), these things won’t be altered one way or the other. Will it be a matter of scale? Possibly so, but that’s probably not much comfort for the “victims” of gentrification who already have been forced out or the “heroes” of the fight against gentrification like Shiloh Baptist Church. So, if your argument is a matter of scale how is it that 50% gentrification is okay but 70% is a pure evil that must be stopped along with Odentex’s free check from Uncle Sam?

  • I’m just saying that people need to think about this: You can’t claim injustice and then be willing to accept just one seat in the House. That doesn’t solve the injustice. So whoever is willing to accept just a seat in the House needs to STOP NOW and realize that the injustice will stay until we have both House and Senate representation. Just be consistent about things, is all I’m asking. (I also don’t believe that House representation is a baby step towards Senate represenation. The discussion would stop there, and then we’d be screwed in a mess of our own making).

    I also think the prospects of Doom and Gloom (or yuppification and fake moving here) from a federal tax exemption are being a little overblown. Sure some people would legitimately move here (perhaps a lot of young people), but the possibility of the tax exemption going away (and thus the “flight back to the suburbs” which I assume the Doom and Gloomers would predict would happen) is a powerful restraint on people thinking about uprooting their families to move to DC and buy real estate that will drop as fast as it will rise when the exemption goes away. Not to mention that the DC school system would not be perceived to be able to turn around overnight, and there aren’t enough physical seats in private schools to be able to satisfy the concerns of people who would be uprooting their families to move someplace they are probably wary of now (I’m assuming a lot of people live in the suburbs, rightly or wrongly, for “the schools”). In addition, a lot of people living outside the city value large backyards, oodles of space, etc. And the existing housing stock just isn’t up to their wants or needs, so why would they “downscale” their life for an increase in 25% or so of income? For non-real estate owners, Rent Control (if enacted in a strong way) is a powerful tool to prevent existing residents from immediately being forced out due to the “inevitable” increase in housing costs.

  • I want a representative (actually, two, please), but it can’t stop there. I want senators. I want Statehood, and all that goes with it. I’d like the state drink to be Busboys and Poets’ DC Tapwater.

  • Things cost whatever people are willing to pay for them. As long as there is an economic incentive for people to move to DC, people will do it. And they will keep coming until there is no longer an incentive for them to do so. That occurs when, roughly speaking, the cost of living in DC is so high that it no longer makes up for not paying Federal taxes. Price equilibrium.

  • If they wanted that, they could already move to Guam or Puerto Rico.
    There are no neighboring states to Guam or Puerto Rico.

  • I’ll take no federal taxes.
    DC isn’t a state, doesn’t have a Govenor or senator, so what good can one congressperson do for us? Shouldn’t DC try becoming a state first, then work on the other things?

  • To halt some very ignorant comments above. I own a house in DC. My parents have already called me regarding the federal tax law and asked that if it passes can they rent out my basement from me for $X per month and list their official address as DC without moving anything out of their home across the border.

    They are in an income bracket where their federal taxes are in the $1500 per month range. They pay me $500 per month for the guest room that was already set up in their “honor” when we had kids and they save $1000 per month.

    That is what will happen because my parents have already asked me about it. Anyone suggesting that it’s unlikely doesn’t have a clue because I already got a call about it.

  • The trick above is that my parents would not sell their house, just transfer their permanent address to my house.

  • Better yet, proportional representation in the senate is even better.

    The concept of the Senate is that it’s not proportional. That’s why we have two houses of congress- otherwise we don’t need two.

    The founding fathers actually did keep some odd semblance of statehood attached to the states, so that each state has equal representation in the Senate but the people have “equal” representation in the House.

  • For those who do not think that a House Rep. from D.C. having a vote would make an actual difference on the ground in the city, I have one word for you: earmarks.

    With an actual vote in the chamber Norton or any other D.C. representative would have a much easier time procuring extra federal money for projects inside the city. This is a fact. These extra millions would make a big difference for quality of life.

    D.C. statehood, on the other hand, is more complicated and is more complex than the argument that we-are-citizens-and-should-have-equal-representation. First, the District of Columbia was created initially to solve the problem of any one state unfairly benefiting from having the national capital existing inside their borders. MD and VA already benefit substantially from being in close proximity to the district, and other states tend to be unhappy about this. The jealousies of old would return very quickly were D.C. granted statehood and the unintended consequences of such action should be seriously considered before any steps are taken.

    Second, we do not have, nor have we ever had, “equal” representation in the United States and this is because the Senate exists. Two senators in Wyoming represent far less people than two senators in California, for example. The idea that we have any right or claim to “equal” representation is unfounded both historically and constitutionally.

  • If you’re looking for a real life example of another jurisdiction that doesn’t levy individual income taxes, just look at Monaco. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that DC would become the next Monte Carlo, but the cost of living there is directly correlated with the low tax burden on its residents.

  • dcdude: What you’re talking about primarily is housing costs in DC. They might double, triple, who knows, but the cost of money remains low, so that is not the same as other cost of living factors, and frankly, for those of us who have already bought, it’s not a factor at all. Prices in DC for goods and services do currently have a premium (as they do in many cities) but while that premium might continue to go up given demand, it is not conceivable that the premium could ever equal the % increase of the average income. Not even close.

    What you’re really talking about is that the cost of living for new residents and current renters is going to be necessarily higher because of difference in housing costs which could outpace even a 20-25% income gain. I agree, this is conceivable, but it is nothing more than the same old anti-gentrification argument. Further, housing costs are likely to continue to go up at some point anyway and what we are talking about is a matter of scale and speed.

  • No federal taxes and increase DC taxes to make the city a better place – as long as that means that the city can still qualify for Federal subsidies. We get a lot of Federal money and if we don’t pay taxes, they may very well take that away leaving us in a worse place.

  • Neener: I am aware the founding flounders constructed the senate as an anti-democratic force 200 years ago (you neglected to mention that senators were not even directly elected until 1910), I’m just pointing out that it’s ripe for a change (or it’s complete abolition as a political force like the House of Lords). To me there is no equitable reason that Wyoming should have the same representation in the Senate as California, New York or Texas. This might have made sense when we had a fragile union and needed to make such concessions, but all such issues were pretty clearly decided by 1865 by Yankee Imperialists. 😉

  • So far, “I dont want to pay federal taxes” is winning in the poll.

  • To Neener: Your parents would then be violating the law. That’s fine, but when audited they will owe a whole host of penalties including facing prison time. Have them get Wesley Snipes autograph for you. I hate to be curt, but your example is not how it works. If it was, practically everyone would use this “trick” in order to get their students in-state tuition at California, Virginia, or other highly regarded state universities/colleges.

  • @Think Think About It: TONS of people do that. I know several people living in DC who use their home state addresses for tax purposes to avoid paying DC taxes (they are generally natives of states like TX, FL and NH that have no state income tax). And a lot of people use “tricks” like that or similar to avoid paying out of state tuition at state schools – even at UMD in the early 90s there were plenty of folks getting in state tuition who were not MD residents.

  • Think About it- are you suggesting that DC residents don’t have rental property in MoCo that they used to get their kids into MoCo schools, etc? I had two friends who did that in the 1980s. What you suggest above is absolutely happening today.

    For instance, one of my neighbors owns a condo they rent out on upper CT Ave. They use that as their permanent residence and they send their kids to Murch Elementary.

    What you suggest is, at worst, not uncommon today. I myself moved to DC and for years under Barry’s second term refused to register my permanent address in DC because Barry was mayor. Back then everyone I knew did the exact same thing, so it was 100% of my friends from college who did that.

  • cupcake: This “lot of federal money” is just not the case. Look at the DC budget. We do not get special federal money for city operation. In fact, there are dozens of examples where we, city taxpayers, get the shaft for providing police and other services for the president and congress and then never see a dime. DC gets block grants and medicaid payments just like every state in the USA, but that is money committed to specific items, not city operation.

    We also get special funding for things like the inauguration, although the feds refused to pay for the whole thing and, guess what, you and I are stuck with the remainder. DC had to beg and plead to get $15MM extra for the inauguration, on top of the 15MM given to DC for the entire year of 2009 to handle all public demonstrations including the inaugural, even though Congress gave $50MM to Minneapolis and $50MM to Denver to defray the costs of the Republican and Democratic Conventions last year. $100MM for bumpkins to have their partisan parties, a big “screw off” to DC for hosting 2 million people (many of them bumpkins from Denver).

    This “pot of federal money” is a myth that gets repeated by Republican Congressmen and commuting leaches from Virginia, but it is not true. Northern Virginia is the one that gets the free ride for not paying a commuter tax as they should (I say 1/2 of their income ought to do it). Despite the best efforts of the feds and others to cheat us, the city still brings in over $10 bln a year and puts about 15% of that away in it’s sock drawer for a rainy day. Do not fear the lack of federal funds, they could hardly screw us worse than they already do.

  • And to suggest that there’s any analysis or audits of such behavior is a joke, I’ve never heard of one single person audited to prove they are or are not a DC resident. Remember in my parents scenario that they would be my paid tenants with receipts, etc.

  • Regarding the commuter tax- do people know that if you live in tax-free delaware and work in nearby Philadelphia you have to pay Philadelphia tax even though you aren’t a resident?

  • Neener: Not sure how it works in Philly.

    However, to avoid Virginians dodging paying their fair share I think we should post sentries at every bridge and when someone drives up with VA tags they can either pay a $5000 fine immediately or have their car dumped in the Potomac. 2nd offense: they themselves get dumped in the Potomac.

    Marylanders can hand over $5 bucks and a promise to take their jacked up Toyota home.

  • simply buying a house in the district wouldn’t qualify for the tax exemption. You would have to reside in the District for a majority of the time.

  • Neener/Nichole: I’m not saying people don’t do it. I know people who speed while driving. That doesn’t make it legal. In the absurd case of the federal income tax being exempted for DC Residents, it would be quite easy for the IRS to monitor those who change their state of residence to DC and give those tax returns a little extra scrutiny. Not hard. Will people lie and cheat their way to an exemption they aren’t legally entitled to? Yes. People cheat on their taxes today (including some of your friends, apparently). People deal drugs. People do a whole host of things that are illegal. The point is that it is illegal and that will temper the amount of people who would “fake move” to DC–especially for those people in the very upper income tax brackets who would, presumably, have a lot to lose monetarily and reputationally by being found to have willfully violated the law. And, remember, this is the IRS not the DC gov’t that will be investigating. AND the amount at issue will be much greater on a percentage of income basis. Soooo, the point is that it is a little overblown to say that cost of living, etc., will rise incredibly because of all the people buying empty houses and renting empty apartments because they are “fake moving” to DC.

  • Apparently in Philly if your office address is at such and such location you pay the tax. In PA the city tax is automatically withdrawn from your paycheck. You get some kind of partial refund when you file PA state tax form. People outside of PA can’t file that. That’s how it was described to me.

  • Neener: That makes sense. All of this brings up the most important question of all:

    Why would anyone ever wanna go to Philly? 😉

  • Let it be known that I disagree with Think About It and disagree that an audit could uncover this kind of “fraud” because it follows the letter of the law.

    How could the IRS claim that a person with a DC address, DC-registered car and paying DC taxes might not be considered a DC resident on paper?

    Both lifelong DC residents Al Gore and Bob Dole essentially do this but they have permission to due to their political status.

  • Neener, I’m pretty sure that if you work in Philly you must pay the wage tax, regardless of where you reside, even in another locality within PA. And I’m also pretty sure that you don’t get some kind of offset on any of your other taxes.

  • The problem is “a” vote in Congress. Every other American has THREE: two senators and one rep. Having one rep wouldn’t give us much pull at all, especially after it was balanced with a vote from Utah.

    A better question: would you rather give up the Taxation Without Representation license plates in exchange for one vote that won’t matter?

    The need to find a way to get us full representation. The lame one vote business will just act as a pressure release valve…..

    P.S. In Philly, non residents who work in the city pay a “commuter tax” that is only slightly less than the 5% or so that city residents pay. Technically, they only have to pay for the days they worked i the city so many of them file to reclaim that money. That was a big deal a few years ago when professional athletes from visiting teams starting doing this. Seriously. Not sure how they resolved it.

  • ha ha, I will “let it be known”. But we don’t know the “letter” of the law, so just think of it from the prespective of Congress, and the IRS, and think about the dranconian residency requirements they would put into the law (possibly multiple year residency; an election for a House Rep is every two years and Senator every 6, so a multi-year residency requirement certainly makes sense) and forms of proof that would be required if something of this magnitude was ever enacted. Obviously it would have to be something a little more than registering to vote in the District (and the requirements for that) or else they would get hammered about people “selling” their right to vote for representatives in exchange for a tax break and move to DC (existing resident of DC, of course, wouldn’t have anything to sell).

  • Yea, the Delaware residents in Philly are sorta screwed (I would contend due to their decision to live in Delaware and work in Philly, but I digress), but the Jersey residents working in Philly get to deduct the Philly taxes from their state tax returns, so its a wash for them.

  • Having lived and worked in/around Philly around the time the city wage tax was introduced, let me explain something… Residents of DE who work in Phila are indirectly taxed. It’s 40 minute drive in rush hour from Wilmington in downtown Philly. If you aren’t paying for gas and auto maintenance, you are paying SEPTA or Amtrak for train rides. Either way, you are ‘taxed’. (FWIW, it’s only 3.5% which is .48% less than city residents pay. And the state income tax in PA is a flat 3%. I think the highest DC bracket is like 17%. In DC if you rent, there is a renter’s tax credit, but I never found it to be enough to offset the income tax which is one reason I moved to NoVa. Believe me, I pay DC enough in parking tix staying overnight in DC at my bf’s house, which is just another form of tax.)

    Now in terms of principled democracy, I’d rather have the vote than no taxes. Because the really rich wouldn’t move to DC for a ‘tax haven’. They’d just hire a better tax accountant, stay where they are and keep avoiding taxes in other ways. The rich already pay very little in taxes (Buffett pays less than his secretary. He’s even said so.)

    While upper middle class folks will try to use DC as a tax dodge renting rooms from their DC-resident kids, most middle-class entrepreneurs/business-owners don’t need the dodge as they monkey with their accounting to reduce their income and pay less. But high wage earners who are not making lots of Schedule C income might try to use the tax haven practice of Neener’s parents, but if enforcement is truly an issue, then the home state of Neener’s parents are going to pursue them even more heavily than the IRS, as suddenly their income earned as non-residents will start doing funny things and likely trigger a state audit. (Not quite as nasty, probably, but still not painless.)

    The point isn’t about leverage in Congress so much as the entire point of living in America and having a voice in how taxes are levied albeit a whisper, as to no voice at all. After all if you don’t pay in to Federal taxes, why should you get any of it back in benefits?

  • BTW, you can get a refund of the Philly City Wage Tax. You just have to file a separate petition form for it which is available online. And a lot of states have a line item where you enter in taxes you remitted to another state as a deduction. (Have you people not ever had to file taxes in other states? Me, I’ve lived in PA, CA, MD, VA and DC and filed as a resident and part-year/non-resident in every one at least once.)

  • Just to point out, Buffet didn’t say he pays less in taxes than his secretary. He said he was taxed at a lower rate. Still distirbing, but hardly the same thing.

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