Friday, October 29, 2004

Stadium tax scale due for revision

By Eric Fisher

District officials hurriedly are seeking changes to the gross-receipts tax that would fund the largest portion of the city's proposed baseball stadium.

The changes come in the aftermath of Thursday's 16-hour public hearing on the stadium bill that featured theatrics, grandstanding and unhappiness among at least five members of the D.C. Council with the legislation as it is currently written.

The structure currently offered by Mayor Anthony A. Williams and top aides calls for District businesses grossing at least $3 million a year to pay a fee ranging from $3,000 to $28,200 a year. Businesses generating at least $16 million a year would pay the top-end fee.

But after hearing from hundreds of citizens and trade groups, many council members and administration officials believe it is not proper to assess the same fee to one business grossing $16 million a year and another grossing 10 or 20 times as much.

In the changes, which are still under discussion, businesses grossing more than $20 million might be split into one or two new categories on the fee scale, with the top-end tax perhaps surpassing $40,000 a year. City officials estimate about 280 businesses in the District meet this high-end threshold. The tax as currently written would apply to 11 percent of city businesses.

"We're working though the numbers, seeing where we can include more proportionality to the model, shifting a bit more burden to the top end," said Steve Green, special assistant in the city office of planning and economic development. "This is a good point that's being made, and it certainly possible to try and make this more progressive."

Read the entire article here on the Washington Times website.