Unions threaten fight over 'creative' tax on D.C. workers

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Photo - Traffic congestion on Interstate 395 in the District. (Examiner file photo)
Traffic congestion on Interstate 395 in the District. (Examiner file photo)
Local,DC,Alan Blinder,Abby Hamblin

Top labor leaders on Wednesday angrily denounced a D.C. Council proposal that would tax future local government employees 4 percent of their incomes if they choose to live outside of the District, warning they could ultimately take their fight to Capitol Hill.

"We want to put a 4 percent tax on people that don't make any money anyway and call it a condition of employment," said Geo Johnson, the executive director of the District's affiliate of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, at a council hearing. "I want you to understand that labor as a whole, we will fight this until the very end. I look at the people who signed on to this and know that they regret signing on to it now, too."

Even though the measure, which hasn't faced a council vote, has drawn some support among city lawmakers, Wilson Building officials have privately said it would almost certainly die during the required congressional review period, especially with strident opposition from the Maryland and Virginia delegations.SClBAlong with the labor leaders, Mayor Vincent Gray's administration also raised concerns about the proposal at Wednesday's hearing.SClBShawn Stokes, the director of the D.C. Department of Human Resources, warned that the requirement might give the District's government trouble in attracting new employees.

"Requiring nonresident employees to pay back a percentage of their salaries may deter highly qualified candidates from surrounding jurisdictions from applying for positions and place the District in a less-than-favorable position to recruit top talent in a timely manner," Stokes said.SClBEarlier Wednesday, Gray said he would be more interested in pursuing a plan that would reward city workers who live in D.C. instead of penalizing those who don't. He did not elaborate.

Ward 2 D.C. Councilman Jack Evans, a supporter of the measure, told The Washington Examiner this week that the proposal was a way to try to raise additional revenue for a city that's barred from imposing a commuter tax.

"This is another method to try to tax income at its source," Evans said. "We have to be creative, so one way of being creative is to tax people who work for the District government who live in other jurisdictions."

ablinder@washingtonexaminer.com

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Author:

Alan Blinder

Staff Reporter, D.C. City Hall
The Washington Examiner
Author:

Abby Hamblin

Intern
The Washington Examiner