It's a traditional year-end gathering where the mighty and the meek mingle, but where no one wants to be -- and where many say they do not belong.
The District government has released its annual list of property owners it says are delinquent in paying their property taxes, a tally of about 7,295 properties with more than $11 million in unpaid revenue.
This year's list includes a queen, the Senate's lead player on tax reform and a former member of the city board that reviews tax assessments. There is an eclectic mix of railroads, embassies, hospitals, developers, one of the city's toniest restaurants and, of course, a long list of just plain folks.
As always, there are those who say it is all a mistake. Take, for example, a spokesman for "Her Majesty Queen Canada," who the city claims is a whopping $584,817 behind on her taxes on her Pennsylvania Avenue NW address, the largest single delinquency on the list.
"Her Majesty's pretty good about paying her taxes," responded Canadian Embassy spokesman John Fieldhouse with a laugh upon being told of the listing of the future site of the Canadian Embassy.
Fieldhouse later gave a more serious explanation: It appears that the city will not recognize the property tax exemption given to foreign embassies until a contract has been awarded for construction of the embassy at that site. Such a contract is "imminent," he added.
A spokeswoman for the D.C. Department of Finance and Revenue, which compiles the list, said some embassies may have failed to file the proper form for the exemption.
Sen. Bob Packwood (R-Ore.), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, is listed as well, for properties in the 400 block of C Street NE. A Packwood aide said the properties used to house the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which Packwood previously headed, but that officials there do not believe that any taxes are owed.
In preparation for selling the property, two title searches were done in the summer, and no tax liens turned up, said the aide.
Brendolyn Harris, a spokeswoman for the finance department, said that this is the first year the list has been compiled by computer and that the agency believes that its list is more accurate than in the past.
Publication of the list is part of a required legal process.
The District will hold its annual auction of properties with taxes due on Jan. 21, Harris said, but sales from that auction are not final for two years.
Ernest Eiland, a former member of the D.C. Board of Equalization and Review, is listed as owing $2,386 at 1830 11th St. NW. Eiland, who was contacted at his office, said he was not aware of it. "If there is a discrepancy, it will be cleared up," he said.
Four Ways Restaurant, a posh and pricey establishment near Dupont Circle, is listed. But an administrator there said the restaurant itself does not owe back taxes and that the listing might be connected with a piece of property that has been sold.
Also on the list is Woodrow Boggs Jr., a top adviser to D.C. City Council member Charlene Drew Jarvis (D-Ward 4). Boggs is listed as owing $783 at a Fourth Street SW address.
He did not return a reporter's phone call.