July 24, 2012

District leaders should immediately take up the offer by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, to reconsider the ban on a D.C. commuter tax [“Issa backs discussion of commuter tax,” Metro, July 20].

Such a measure won’t impose a net new tax on anyone; Maryland and Virginia taxpayers would receive a credit for their payments to the District. All a commuter tax would do is shift which jurisdiction receives revenue. Clearly Mr. Issa, a conservative Republican who would normally oppose new taxes, understands this. When the Maryland and Virginia representatives oppose the tax, they will expose the rank hypocrisy of their states in taxing nonresident workers while opposing reciprocity for the District. With the help of Mr. Issa, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and the Obama administration, this is a fight we can win.

Maryland and Virginia would lose revenue, of course, but they have ways to make up this money that are not available to the District. Plus, the two states have a vital interest in the health of the District. One way to make a D.C. commuter tax more palatable to them would be to dedicate some of the money to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, perhaps to help cover its multibillion-dollar shortfall in funding for capital improvements for the next 10 years.

Someday the District might get the congressional vote it deserves. But in the meantime, we need to give it the revenue it needs to become a great city.

Chuck Ludlam, Washington

A number of taxes are already levied on Maryland and Virginia residents who commute into the District. They’re called sky-high parking fees and moving-violation tickets.

I travel into the District frequently for my work. I can’t take Metro because of the equipment I carry. Like many who drive into the city, I have gotten a couple tickets over the years. The worst came last year when I was pulled over for no reason that I could determine. The officer informed me that the clear plastic cover on my license plate was illegal in the District. It had been there for years.

Fine. Fully expecting a warning, I was presented with a ticket. The amount: $500. I was stunned. All the officer said was, “I don’t determine the amount.” I’d sure love to know who did.

Nearly nine months and two appeals later, my case is still not resolved. I have sent e-mails to D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) and Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier to express my shock over the fine, which is far in excess of what Virginia and Maryland levy for the same offense. I feel sorry for tourists who save up their money to come to the District and then get slapped with such a “Thanks for coming to D.C.” tax.

Art Jaso, Silver Spring