ANNAPOLIS – The Maryland Attorney General will take action to prevent the District of Columbia from imposing a tax on commuting Marylanders, according to a statement released Wednesday by his office.
Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. said he will file court papers to try to block action by the District to tax all those earning wages within its borders, even if they’re from out of state.
“We have been asked in the past,” to get involved, said Jamie St. Onge, a spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office.
“The Attorney General will assert in the litigation that the District should not be allowed to tax the incomes of . . . Maryland residents who commute there to work,” according to the statement.
A complaint, dated July 24, 2003, and filed by various parties in the District, asks the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to strike down “a statute enacted by the United States Congress that prohibits the District from taxing income that is earned within its borders by non-residents.”
Defendants named on the complaint include the United States of America, the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft.
District residents who helped file the complaint were a mixture of individuals from different wards in the city. They wanted to change the statute but they have no vote in Congress, said Walter Smith, executive director of the DC Appleseed Center.
“They had no other recourse than to go to court,” said Smith.
The District is arguing that all 41 states with an income tax may levy it on residents and non-residents who earn money in those states, Smith said. The prohibition against such a tax, it argues, “discriminates against the District primarily in favor of Maryland and Virginia.”
Washington has need of additional revenue, according to a U.S. General Accounting Office report cited in the lawsuit. More money is needed, it said in a May 2003 report, to “provide an average level of services.”
The GAO report helped confirm the District’s complaint, Smith said.
Curran will not give any interviews until paperwork has been filed, St. Onge said.