THE D.C. Department of Revenue and Finance has now said unequivocally that on Thursday it "was contacted for the first timeon behalf of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Norton to learn the procedures for requesting the record of the Nortons' District tax history." Eleanor Holmes Norton's campaign manager, Donna Brazile, disputes this. "There has been prior discussion with the Department of Finance and Revenue over the past several weeks," she said. "There's no way Mrs. Norton could have put together her records and filed those taxes {$88,000 to pay off overdue taxes, penalties and interest} without such a contact." What are the facts in this dispute?

It's not clear. It is clear, however, that six weeks have passed since the initial disclosure of the Nortons' tax problems and that the questions that have plagued her candidacy since the weekend of Sept. 8-9 remain unanswered by her.

Again, we refer to the Nortons' 1982 tax "dispute" with the city, which resulted in a lien being filed against their home in 1989. The circumstances of the dispute have yet to be disclosed, that is, what it was about. The public also doesn't know how the Nortons managed to get by for seven years without filing returns or paying their taxes. Was the city's tax agency not doing its job during those years? And now a question has been raised about Eleanor Norton's diligence in trying to clear up this matter.

It is important for the voters to know the answers to the questions all this raises before election day. The Department of Finance and Revenue should give the Nortons their District tax history without delay, and Mrs. Norton should make it public along with any explanation she would care to offer.