Unlike most other wage earners who live in Maryland, Rep. Richard H. Ichord (D-Mo.) says he does not pay Maryland income tax and has no intention of paying in the future.
Ichord, who says he pays Missouri taxes, is protesting Maryland's unwillingness to join the District and Virginia in exempting congressmen from THE INCOME TAX.
Just as striking, perhaps, is the fact that it apparently took 10 years for the state of Maryland to detect Ichord's admitted transgression.
According to Ichord, the state had not said a word to him in the 10 years he has lived in Maryland "of and on" without paying the tax until about two months ago when he said he received a letter requesting payment of delinquent taxes.
"We find it difficult to determine which congressmen live in Maryland," said state income tax chief George H. Spriggs, explaining why it might have taken so long to detect Ichord's non-payment.
Spriggs would not comment specifically on Ichord's case, but said "If you look in the Congressional Directory, some are listed as living in D.C., some in Virginia, and some have a blank beside their names." The latest edition of the directory lists Ichord's Missouri address and his Washington office.
Congress members have argued that the Maryland requirement sometimes forces them to pay taxes to two states. Maryland officials respond that because of reciprocity agreements among the states, few representatives pay any extra taxes because of Maryland's requirments.
Since Maryland has been unconvinced, Congress has tried to repeal the exemption through federal legislation. A bill doing this was vetoed by President Ford last year but another measure is certain to reach President Carter's desk this year.
Ichord said he was informed of his delinquency in April when he received in letters from George F. Smith, chief of the collection and compliance division for the Maryland comptroller. "Members of Congress must be treated as any other taxpayer," Ichord quoted Smith as writing.
Ichord has circulated to government officials his reply to Smith's request that he pay his taxes and communicated his intention not to pay "until the highest court decides that I must pay such taxes."
"It's a matter of principle," Ichord states. "I'm neither a resident nor a domiciliary of Maryland. I just sleep there, and I don't even do that six months out of the year." Ichord says he owes his allegiance and his taxes to Missouri only. "I pay personal property taxes and real property taxes in Missouri. I license my cars in Missouri. My children go to school in Missouri."
Although Ichord refused to divulge the amount of income tax he pays to the state of Missouri, he says that the difference between it and what he owes Maryland amounts to "a few dollars." But that is irrelevant, says Ichord. "It's the principle. I'd spend $10,000 in court before I pay one dime of Maryland income tax."
However Ichord isn't going to the court for awhile. George H. Spriggs, head of the Income Tax Division of the Maryland state government says that no congressman will be prosecuted for delinquent payment of income tax until President Carter decides the issue.
If Maryland does take him to court, Ichord plans to "throw in everything in the book" to defend himself.
In addition, Ichord hopes to pursue introduction of a bill that will tax Marylanders who work in the district. "I haven't gotten to it yes," he said, "because I've been too busy, but you can be assured it will come up."