Thursday, May 19, 2011

Tax me!

(Crossposted to Jewschool.)

In the District of Columbia, the highest income tax bracket begins at $40,000. You read that right: a person making $40,000/year and a person making $40,000,000/year are taxed at the same marginal rate.

Like many states across the country, DC is in a budget crunch this year because the recession leads to both lower tax revenues and higher demand for safety-net services. As a result, DC’s social safety net is at risk. Mayor Vincent Gray’s proposed budget makes the tax brackets ever so slightly more progressive, with an additional 0.4% tax on income above $200,000. This is a trivial increase for high-income earners (millionaires would owe another $3200 per year), and still would not prevent cuts to the safety set, but it is a step in the right direction. Yet some Councilmembers are opposing even this minor tax increase.

Enter the Jewish community. As the Washington Jewish Week reports this week, DC’s Jewish community, led by Jews United For Justice, has been at the forefront of efforts to tell the Council that the people of DC really wouldn’t mind paying higher taxes in exchange for a better city to live in. (91% of people in the affluent Wards 2 and 3 support a tax increase.)

The article also includes an obligatory quote from a (probably Jewish) libertarian representing midat Sedom (”What’s mine is mine”), riddled with factual errors (in addition to what ZT points out in the comments, I don’t think the DC Treasury actually accepts donations — this would run afoul of corruption laws).

Still, most of the Jewish community understands that we all have obligations to our society and to our neighbors. If you live in DC and want to make sure that this perspective wins out, get involved with JUFJ’s efforts.

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