Business taxes for manufacturing corporations are higher in the District of Columbia than any other jurisdiction in the metropolitan areas of Washington and Baltimore.
Of 15 major cities and counties surveyed for tax rates by the Metropolitan Washington Board of Trade, the District also has the highest tax rates in metropolitant Washington for a regional headquarters of an out-of-state corporation or for a research and development company.
In addition, the city's tax rates for wholesale trading companies that lease industrial property are exceeded in the area only by those of Prince George's and Arlington counties and the city of Alexandria.
These findings, computed by the Washington accounting firm of Millard T. Charlton and Co. for the Board of Trade's business development bureau, were included in packages of material about the metropolitan area handed out to 40 visiting executives.
Most of the visitors, invited by the Board of Trade for a two-day tour of the area, departed Dulles airport last night after bus trips through the suburbs of Maryland and Northern Virginia and separate promotional presentations by state political and local business leaders. On Thursday, the 40 visitors had toured Washington by bus and subway.
Executies of local government all put out welcome mats for the out-of-state business, real estate development and trade association executives who are studying the possibility of investments, relocation or expansion here. D.C. City Council member Marion Barry, apprent victor in the Democratic primary for mayor, said as much at a Federal City Club reception Thursday night.
However, at the Northern Virginia session yesterday, Lieut. Gov. Charles Robb cautioned the visitors that "we're not going to promise you a rose garden to get you to locate here."
"A number of states have redesigned their tax structures to entice new customers to settle within their borders . . . We feel that we have so many natural advantages that we don't have to create short term, artificial incentives to lure businesses to Virginia, and we don't think that approach is fair to the businesses already here," Robb said in prepared remarks.
Some D.C. government and business leaders have proposed significant tax incentives to attract light manufacturing industries and wholesale distributors, in particular, as a method of providing jobs in a city where the unemployment rate is close to 10 percent - far higher than in the more affluent sububs.
The latest tax rate report, based on July 1 data, shows the challenge faced by D.C. leaders - at least so far as taxation is a factor considered by businesses in picking sites for construction or expansion.
For a hypothetical manufacturing corporation with $8.5 million of assets, the sort of light industry D.C. leaders would like to attact for business development along New York Avenue, the new report shows total state and local annual taxes in D.C. of $174,900.
Not only is that taxation higher than any area jurisdiction, it also exceeds that tax rates of Baltimore City and Baltimore County, Anne Arundel County and Howard County in Maryland.
The lowest taxes for the hypothetical company would be in Charles County (70,700), and the taxation would not exceed $100,000 a year in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Howard, Montgomery, Prince George's and Loudoun counties. Behind D.C., the highest tax rates would be in Baltimore City (136,600) and Arlington County (127,900).
Compared with other jurisdictions, the D.C. total reflects much higher levels of inventory and intangible property taxes and the highest income, unemployment, utility and use taxes of any jurisdiction surveyed.
The Washington area jurisdiction that shows up most favorably in terms of the lowest tax rates for businesses of all types is Loudoun County in Virginia - ranked lowest of the 15 jurisdictions for wholesale companies, a regional headquarters of a national company, retailing and research and development; fifth lowest for manufacturing firms; and second lowest for lessors of commercial and industrial property.
For a hypothetical wholesaler with assets of $5.5 million, annual taxes would be $58,700 in Loudoun compared with $91,000 in D.C. All jurisdictions in Northern Virginia have lower taxes for such a wholesale operation than D.C., while Prince George's, Baltimore City and Baltimore County have higher rates.