SIMMONS: D.C. weighs job-killing per-employee ‘service fee’

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Having sent up the red flag before the Christmas holidays, I venture again.

This time I will be far more pedestrian.

Officials in the nation’s capital are seriously pondering a new anti-business tax, and Congress might have to intervene to save the city from itself.

Here’s the 411:

The city would levy a $25 per-employee per-quarter “local service fee” on D.C. employers.

The fee would be imposed on all employers doing business inside city limits, except businesses with four or fewer employees.

To keep track of employers and employees, the city would use quarterly unemployment filings — a stealthy move.

Why stealthy?

It’s stealthy because Social Security numbers and tax-identification numbers are tied to an individual and/or an entity, and if the city will indeed be paying attention every quarter, then both fraud and theft can more easily be kept to a minimum.

But the new tax would move the city backward, discouraging progress instead of lowering taxes, loosening its grip on businesses and looking for long-term planning payoffs — in an election year, no less.

Last week, the D.C. Tax Revision Commission briefed the D.C. Council on its proposed recommendations, which include tax breaks, and that means the election-year fun and games are about to begin.

Mayor Vincent C. Gray and his four opponents on the council — Muriel Bowser, Ward 4 Democrat; Jack Evans, Ward 2 Democrat; Vincent B. Orange; at-large Democrat; and Tommy Wells, Ward 6 Democrat — are already jockeying for position.

Pay closest attention to Mr. Gray and Mr. Evans, the former because he’s trying to save his own hide, and the latter because he oversees tax and revenue on the council.

A sparring match is likely in the offing.

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About the Author
Deborah Simmons

Deborah Simmons

Award-winning opinion writer Deborah Simmons is a senior correspondent who reports on City Hall and writes about education, culture, sports and family-related topics. Mrs. Simmons has worked at several newspapers, and since joining The Washington Times in 1985, has served as editorial-page editor and features editor and on the metro desk. She has taught copy editing at the University of ...

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