Issa open to discussion of D.C. commuter tax

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A year after he suddenly proposed greater fiscal freedoms for the District, Rep. Darrell Issa dangled yet another enticing plan in front of D.C. officials on Thursday.

Mr. Issa, California Republican, said the time has come to examine whether the city deserves a commuter tax in light of the large number of out-of-state residents who work in the nation’s capital.

He made the comments at the end of a hearing on potential changes the Height Act, a 1910 law that limits the height of buildings in the city.

Earlier in the hearing, D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi complained that the city cannot tax income from about two-thirds of the people who come in each day and use the city’s roads and services.

“For Mr. Gandhi’s pleasure, I think we should — after the election — start to think about how we are going to deal with the only place that doesn’t have the ability to tax people who earn their income in that place,” Mr. Issa said from the dais, without offering more details.

The notion of a commuter tax would face stern opposition from officials in Annapolis and Richmond. It has in the past, and will at any time in the future, officials said.

Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District’s non-voting member of Congress, said she appreciated Mr. Issa’s gesture, yet realizes that Virginia and Maryland can throw four senators and all of their House members at the issue.

“This is a war I don’t think can be won,” Mrs. Norton said.

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