- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 29, 2000

D.C. officials try their best to get your money coming and going. Their most recent effort is called the D.C. Non-Resident Tax Credit Act, which essentially would force Marylanders and Virginians to send a portion of their federal income tax to the District. The justification for this is, according to city officials, the need for more revenue. Now there is considerable room for disagreement. But whatever side of that particular issue you stand on the District still should prove it can collect money it already is owed instead of creating new taxes.

Take tax scofflaws. Thousands of individuals and businesses owe the city hundreds of millions of dollars. The D.C. Water and Sewer Authority publishes its tax delinquency list each year and the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue publishes another list. Furthermore, the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs generates big bucks by levying fines and criminal charges on housing, safety and building code violations. So there is plenty of money to be collected.

Consider Randy McRae. Mr. McRae owns several apartment buildings in the city and has been hit with an untoward number of violations. For one building, a 14-unit building at 4116 Ames Street N.E., Mr. McRae faces 1,579 criminal charges, and each charge carries a maximum fine of $300. Those offenses could generate $473,700 in revenue. Mr. McRae also owes the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority considerable sums of money. The delinquent water bills on his property at 1417 Newton St. N.W. total $89,920.70 and he has owed that money for some time.

Moreover, Mr. McRae has not paid his property taxes, either. According to the D.C. Office of the Chief Financial Officer, Mr. McRae owes taxes dating back to 1997 on the Newton Street property. The tax liability on that property is $43,300. In addition he owes $9,500 for a building on Park Road N.W. and thousands more for three other properties.

These and other substantial delinquencies like them are outrageous. The average landowner pays his taxes and is not afforded such leniency. Nor is the D.C. government employee whose paycheck is garnisheed. And, to be sure, they shouldn't be. The point is, instead of whining about taxation without representation and drumming up ways to generate new taxes the city should be enforcing collection on old debts. That's real tax equity.

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