Rep. Les Aspin (D-Wis.) made The list this year. So did mayoral aide Ivanhoe Donaldson, newly-elected school board member R. David Halland Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen.

D.C. boxing commissioner Cora Wilds is on it, as is real estate developer Ozzie Clay.

In this instance, The List is not one of those to which prominent Washingtonians aspire. The List is the D.C. Department of Finance and Revenue's roster of property owners who failed to pay real estate taxes by the July 1 deadline.

About 5,500 property owners were included in a list of delinquent taxpayers that appeared last Saturday in the classified ads section of The Washington Post -- regardless of whether they subsequently paid the taxes and late charges.

In publicizing the list, the city merely was following a legally prescribed process for warning property owners that their land would be sold for taxes in two years unless they pay their back taxes before then.

But its publication of the list immediately reignited a perennial controversy over the ability of the finance department to accurately record who has paid taxes and who hasn't.

Aspin and Donaldson insisted they paid their taxes on time and should never have been on the list.

Aspin, a l0-year veteran of Congress, said he paid the $1,359 he owed on his Georgetown home and on three occasions sent copies of his canceled check to the city to prove it.

"This has been going on for months," Aspin complained in an interview. "It's a hopeless situation. That city is so screwed up. I'm so frustrated I feel like calling a congressman."

Donaldson, director of the D.C. Department of Employment Services and Mayor Marion Barry's top political advisor, said he was equally puzzled to find his name on the delinquent-taxpayers list.

When informed that the city was claiming he still owed $1,175 in taxes on his Wyoming Avenue condominium, Donaldson replied: "This is the first time I heard about it."

According to the list, the city also claims it is owed $23,824 by Clay, $1,529 by Cohen and $58 by Wilds.

Clay, who briefly played with the Washington Redskins, acknowledged he was late in paying his July taxes, but said he was merely following a common practice among businessmen with large real estate holdings.

"They (the city) just assess you a fee for late payments and it's added to your property taxes," Clay explained. "It (the late penalty) is no more than a business expense that people incur. . . . It doesn't mean anything."

Hall, who is also a real estate investor, said he has paid his property taxes, although he couldn't recall whether he met the July 1 deadline.

"At this point I'm not concerned (about the delinquent property-tax list) because if you check you'll see that they (his tax bills) are all paid in full," Hall said.

"That list is what's delinquent," he added. "Those taxes have been paid for some time."

The controversy over the accuracy of the list is symptomatic of D.C. residents' complaints about the efficiency of the city's bureaucracy, including a perennially error-ridden water-billing system.

Carolyn L. Smith, director of the finance and revenue department, said she is undaunted by such criticism. Last year, there were vehement protests from some of those on the list, which included the names of Council chairman Arrington Dixon, CBS News anchorman Dan Rather, Washington Post publisher Donald E. Graham and Robert L. Moore, the city's housing director -- all of whom insisted that the taxes were paid.

At that time, Smith held her ground, contending that although subsequent checks found that some of the complainants should not have been on the list, the roster nevertheless was "99 percent accurate, with only a few disputed cases."

She noted that only two people had called her office on Monday to complain about inaccuracies in the tax-delinquency list published over the weekend. "That's evidence that the list is substantially more accurate than it has been in the past," Smith said.

Moreover, not everybody of note who turned up on the list faulted the city or tried to come up with an excuse.

When asked whether he paid his taxes, Post columnist Cohen replied: "No, I decided to buy a Christmas tree instead."