When you think Donald Trump you probably don’t think about DC statehood at the same time, but you should. As District leaders fawned over ‘the Donald’ and his plans to renovate the Old Post Office Pavilion on Pennsylvania Ave. NW it raises an interesting issue related to the New Columbia Admission Act: Do the borders delineated in the bill make sense? If you just use the Old Post Office Pavilion as an example the current borders raise concerns about tax justice and equity issues mainly for federal employees but also with some private companies like Trump’s Hotel. Were statehood to be granted to New Columbia the Trump Hotel would not be in the state but in the smaller ‘federal district’ and thus exempt from state taxes. This would mean that New Columbia would have no right to what the City Paper reports the Mayor estimates as “$100 million in tax revenue over ten years.”
Anybody out there think ‘the Donald’ should be exempt from state taxes? Anybody?
The lines in the New Columbia Admission Act delineate the smaller federal district with the intent of only including the federal core, also known as the National Capital Service Area (NCSA) as created by Congress as part of the Home Rule Act. The NCSA was created to essentially give the federal government the role of maintaining that area while the District Government had responsibility over the rest of the city. These borders, however, should not be the state lines and thus need to be change before the statehood bill moves too far forward. The new smaller federal district could simply be the Mall, the White House, the Capitol (and associated buildings), and the Supreme Court.
As an example: under the current borders employees within the Reagan Building (south side of PA Ave. NW) would be exempt from state taxes while their counterparts working at the FBI building (north side of PA Ave. NW) would be subject to state income taxes. With numerous federal facilities scattered throughout the District and the neighboring Maryland and Virginia suburbs it doesn’t make sense to exempt just a few federal buildings. Therefore, why not make the federal district smaller and clearly separate from the state and in a size more manageable for the Park Service and the Architect of the Capitol to maintain.
This issue is something that needs greater consideration but it’s something District leaders seem to not care about or ignorant of. The first step is to investigate the ramifications of the current proposed border and analyze potential border changes. Depending on the results it might makes sense to have Delegate Norton & Senator Carper to amend their statehood bills in the House and Senate to adjust the lines so that there is not a tax justice/equity issue between federal employees at different agencies or among select private companies.
And if the borders are to stay the same then the Donald should dig deep into his pockets and bankroll the statehood movement because as the borders are currently drawn he stands to make millions not just from revenues but from being exempt from the state taxes of New Columbia.