Washingtonians in middle and upper-income brackets continue to pay more local taxes than their suburban neighbors and the residents of most other big cities around the country, according to a series of new D.C. government reports.
A typical four-person Washington family with a $15,000 income paid $1,503 in local taxes during 1977. This was compared with a low of $1,028 in state and local taxes paid in Loudoun County, on the metropolitan fringe in Virginia, and a suburban high of $1,436 in Prince George's County.
In the other neighboring suburbs, the figures were $1,434 in Montgomery County, $1,387 in Alexandria, $1,314 in Fairfax County and $1,301 in Arlington County.
For a family that earned $35,000, the D.C. taxes totaled $4,036, compared with a range of $2,529 in Loudoun to $3,4475 in Prince George's. Others were $3,371 in Montgomery, $3,221 in Alexandria, $3,078 in Fairfax and $3,072 in Arlington.
At a $5,000 income level, the lowest calculated, the District tax burden ranked sixth among 10 area jurisdictions, with $444. The highest was $482 in Alexandria, the lowest $339 in Loudoun. Fairfax was $454, Arlington, 450, Prince George's, $423 and Montgomery, $402.
Although the rates on various types of taxes range widely, the biggest difference is in income taxes. In the District, they start at a lower rate on low incomes and step up to a higher rate on large incomes.
Compared with the tax burdens in the nation's 30 largest cities in 1976, the D.C. burden for the $15,000 family ranked ninth. The most heavily taxed city was Boston, where the typical $15,000 family paid $2,740 nearly twice as much as in Washington.
The District held a similar rank at higher-income levels.
The financial comparison reports, required each year by the D.C. home rule charter, were prepared by the city's Department of Finance and Revenue, and released this week. They include all state and local taxes, but not federal taxes, paid in each jurisdiction compared.
One of the reports found that the District squeezes its tax sources a bit harder than the national average, and ranks ahead of 35 states in the proportion of personal income that is collected in taxes.
As a unique political jurisdiction, the District levies some taxes that are ordinarily collected by states, such as those on incomes and retail sales, as well as real estate taxes that usually are a main source of city and county revenue.
Billy D. Cook, associate director of finance and revenue, said the reports should dispel a widespread impression that D.C. residents pay unusually low taxes because the city is heavily subsidized by the U.S. government.
That issue take on added importance as state legislatures begin considering ratification of the proposed constitutional amendment to grant the District voting representation in both houses of Congress.
Among the newly released reports is one detailing the city's personal income tax collections for 1976. The report shows that the adjusted gross income of Washingtonians reached $3.56 billion, an increase of 5.9 percent over 1975. Tax collections totaled $813 million. However, the number of returns filed dropped 0.8 percent, to 311,181 taxpayers in 1976.
The 20 percent of the taxpayers who live in the afflulent areas west of Rock Creek Park paid 36 percent of all the taxes collected on personal earnings in 1976. The 24 percent of the taxpayers from east of the Anacostia River, an area that contains some of the city's most impoverished areas, paid 16 percent of the taxes.
The average city taxpayer paid $567. By that measure, the city's most typical taxpayers lived in postal Zip Code zone 20003, where the average payment was $570. Zone 20003 covers all of Southeast Washington west of the Anacostia River, including much of Capitol Hill.
The highest average income taxpayments in the city were $1,169, from Zip Code zone 20016, which includes much of far Northwest. The lowest from a major residential area averaged $341, from zone 20010, the area extending from Soldiers Home west to Rock Creek Park, including Columbia Heights.
Only the eastern end of downtown, Zip Code area 20001, which includes many rooming houses and tenements, was lower with a $281 average.
From the statistics, it is possible to see which neighborhoods contribute the most and which contribute the least in income taxes to the city's coffers - although Cook cautioned that this does not measure operating costs.
The biggest total contributors were the 16,631 taxpayers from Zip Code zone 20008, Woodley-Cleaveland Park, who paid $17.6 million, an average of $1,074 apiece. The lowest was Zip Code area 20001, where 10,064 taxpayers paid $2.8 million.
The most taxpayers from any Zip Code area were 31,725 from Zip Code area 20011, the Brightwood-Petworth area north of Soldiers Home. They paid $14.4 million, an average of $454.
In comparision with the citywide average income tax liabaty of $567, the report said the average and county a his state and county combined income tax of $904 while the average Virginian pays the state $526.