Wash. Post Laments How the End of an Illegal Tax Will "Cost" D.C. Millions

The D.C. Superior Court recently ruled that thousands of non-District residents had been illegally compelled to pay a business tax. But rather than portray the tens of millions lost by local businessmen to the city government, the Post portrayed the ruling as harmful to the city's bottom line.

Staff Writer Albert Crenshaw focused on the concerns of city officials and a sympathetic liberal think tank:

Ed Lazere, executive director of the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, which analyzes D.C. tax and budget issues, said the tax generates about $100 million a year for the city. If the ratio of suburbanites to D.C. residents is the same among real estate investors and other owners of unincorporated businesses as among workers generally -- roughly two-thirds suburban to one-third District -- then the loss could round to $70 million, "which is huge," he said.

Crenshaw did not inform readers that the Institute is an affiliate of the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

The Post's bias is not all that surprising given the paper's slant in favor of tax revenue-hungry government. The Washington Post has previously endorsed another unconstitutional tax on non-residents of the District of Columbia, the commuter tax, calling it a "sensible option" popular with D.C. taxpayers in a Nov. 10, 2005 editorial. In the same editorial, however, it casually conceded that city residents are already heavily taxed as the city's thirst for tax dollars remains unsated:

The rulings prevent the District, which shoulders one of the nation's highest tax burdens, from capturing an estimated $1.4 billion in commuter tax revenue. But, in fairness to the judges, the financial predicament in which the city finds itself is not their fault.

It's also hard to imagine the Post treating a court ruling against a private company for say price gouging or overcharging for services the same way, particularly with a headline lamenting the "cost" to the company.

"D.C. Business Tax Illegal, Judge Rules: Court Decision Could Cost City Millions" (print edition)

"D.C. Firms Taxed Illegally, Court Says: Ruling Could Cost Tens of Millions." (Web site)

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters