Friday, May 7, 2010

Proposal To Tax More D.C. Services Meets With Protests

“Health club members and Yoga lovers flooded D.C. Council members with e-mails Thursday after word spread that the council might consider a new tax on health club memberships to help fill a $550 million budget gap. The Washington Post reported last week that several council members were putting everything on the table, from pet grooming to club memberships. This year, the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, a local think tank, is listing services that have never been taxed to tap for revenue. The idea is that consumption has shifted from goods to services, and the city's tax code is behind the times. Other jurisdictions across the country that felt the brunt of the recession before the District have come up with similar taxes. Also pushing the idea is the Fair Budget Coalition, which is made up of three dozen nonprofit and advocacy organizations and is circulating a proposal to extend the sales tax to the services in question. While council members Michael A. Brown (D-At Large) and Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) are trying to convince their colleagues to join them in raising taxes on the city's wealthier households, the taxes on services haven't gained traction. That didn't stop local yoga outfits and gyms from contacting council members. ‘Things have gotten a little uncorked here,’ Graham said. ‘I've received 2,869 e-mails since 8:35 a.m.’ Doug Jefferies, owner of the Results Gym chain, and David von Storch, owner of the Vida Fitness chain, are also mobilizing in opposition to a tax on gym memberships or classes. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), chairman of the Committee on Finance and Revenue, said he wants his colleagues to hold the line on all taxes. Increasing them, he said, ‘is a real mistake.’ Here's a list of services currently not taxed that the institute would like the council to consider […].’

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