- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 1, 2003

Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. says state residents who work in the District could pay more under a proposed “commuter tax” than they do now.

Under the proposed plan, Virginia and Maryland residents who work in the District would pay the commuter tax to the District, then seek a tax credit from their home states, Mr. Curran said.

“The tax that can be imposed by D.C. may not be the same amount we impose,” he told The Washington Times.

Mr. Curran, a Democrat, has joined Virginia Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore, a Republican, in opposing a lawsuit seeking to end a federal ban against any D.C. commuter tax. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in the District in July by 18 city residents, the D.C. Council and Mayor Anthony A. Williams.

The 1973 D.C. Self-Government and Governmental Reorganization Act — known as the Home Rule Act — prohibits the city from imposing a commuter tax.

The District seeks to collect $500 million to $1.4 billion in revenue by redirecting commuters’ tax dollars from Maryland’s and Virginia’s treasuries to its own coffers.

About 500,000 workers commute daily to the District, including about 280,000 from Maryland.

“It is a case in federal court that affects the Maryland treasury and affects the Virginia treasury, and for us to sit still would be a mistake,” Mr. Curran said.

Tax supporters say it is needed because commuters take hundreds of millions of dollars of taxable income out of the District without contributing to the city’s infrastructure. They say city residents bear a heavy tax burden to fund services and infrastructure that are consumed by commuters.

Opponents say the District receives federal assistance such as grants and debt relief that other municipalities do not. They also say the commuter tax would hurt the District because businesses would flee the city.

Maryland’s and Virginia’s governors have voiced their opposition to the commuter tax, as have other elected leaders of suburban jurisdictions. For example, the Prince William Board of County Supervisors recently passed a resolution against the tax.

The Montgomery County Council opposes the tax, though County Executive Douglas M. Duncan has a different point of view.

Mr. Duncan said he was disappointed by the city’s lawsuit but would support a long-standing proposal to allocate to the District some federal income tax paid by commuters.

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