As you may have heard, part of Mayor Bowser’s budget includes a modest increase in the sales tax—from 5.75 percent to 6 percent—bringing it in line with rates in Maryland and Virginia. Under the Mayor’s plan, the $22 million in revenue this increase will bring in is to be dedicated to homeless services.
The District is facing a large budget shortfall. True, Mayor Bowser could have offered a progressive tax structure to increase revenue, an option in line with what we, as a member of the D.C. Fair Budget Coalition, recommended. But she also could have chosen to cut homeless services. If the alternative is to deprive our fellow Washingtonians living with homelessness the means to change their circumstances, Hyacinth’s Place cautiously supports the sales-tax increase at this time.
Here is our official statement:
Hyacinth’s Place believes that a tax structure that does not take into account ability to pay is discriminatory and regressive. With that being said, poverty and homelessness in the District are at crisis levels, and we cannot afford NOT to act. We maintain that our initial revenue recommendations are the fairest, most effective way to do this; however, we oppose eliminating the sales tax provision unless it is replaced with a progressive revenue structure that generates at a minimum the same $22 million for homeless services.
For a more extensive review of the sales-tax increase, we recommend the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute’s take.
Government Relations and Advocacy Manager